The whole idea of a wet set is for the hair to retain some of the shape given to it by being wrapped around curlers as it drys. As you can imagine, the pattern of how you set the rollers does have an effect on the finished hairstyle, but not as much as you might think. The combing and teasing can significantly shape the final hairdo. The great thing about this is that even if you are new at wet sets, and you curlers aren't as neatly set as you might want them to be, you can still turn the result into a great hairstyle.
There are probably about four basic setting patterns. Perhaps the most common and easiest to do is the one shown below:
To set your hair this way, comb you hair from the forehead back, and then left and right towards each of your ears, leaving about a roller's width of hair going back from you forehead. Start with the roller at your forehead and add one after another going back till you run out if hair at your neck. Once done with that row, put an extra pik though each adjacent pair of rollers if you feel any are in danger of falling out.
Now do the left and right rows in a similar way, and then fill in the spaces in the back with rows if possible. Once dried, this is often used as the foundation for hairdos with a lot of volume on top,and/or a bit of flip on either side. Comb back and sideways for a style as shown. You can vary the set with different size rollers or the direction in which you roll them. If you want a very curly tousled look, try rolling smaller adjacent curlers in alternate directions.
The second most common is the halo pattern:
As you can see for the diagram, its called a halo because a row of curlers forms a halo around your face. The rows are wound towards the ears left and right from where you want the part in your hair to be. The back then filled in with neat rows. A setting like this often lends itself to itself to beautiful gently flowing waves combed left and tight from the part as shown in the photograph. Be sure to wind the curlers left and right form where you want the part, otherwise you will end up fighting the set when trying when combing out you hair.
The brick pattern is a slightly harder to do setting pattern:
American Hairdresser, July 1971
This pattern is either for more solid styles, or curls all over. It is of course called a brick pattern because every row or rollers is often offset by half a roller length, so they resemble bricks in a wall (although in the example picture this is not the case). To set you hair like this, start with a neat ring of curlers around your face, then work back row by row. It gets harder to keep the rollers in the required pattern as you get towards the back. If you are lucky enough to have half length rollers (common in the 60s, rare today) you can use them to re-position your row of curlers. Otherwise , just make do – its less critical in the back anyway. Like the other settings, if some of your curlers are in danger of falling out place a pik though a few rollers to hold them in place. Comb upwards for a style like in the diagram.
And finally random rollers, the easiest to do:
Slight variations on each of the above can be done to emphasize certain styles, often by placing rollers in front in slightly different directions. An example is shown below:
Notice how the two angles rollers on the forehead adds just a bit of curl to the part in her hair and looks great!
The best source of more information about setting patterns and how they relate to hairstyles are vintage magazines. The ones to look out for are titles like “200 Setting patterns”, “Set 'n Style” and some issues of “Woman's Day” and similar household magazines. eBay is a good place to look if your interested, but be warned: sometimes people seem to go a little bidding crazy – you really shouldn't pay more than $15 or so for a vintage magazine. If you can get one of these vintage magazines that is devoted to setting patterns, you will have about the best piece of reference material you can find. And remember, don't hesitate to experiment: the great thing about a wet set is you can always wash it out if you don't like it.