Thursday, November 5, 2009

Basic Setting Patterns for Vintage Hairdos by Pete

Guest blogger, Pete from incurlers, is back with the second installment in a series about classic hairdressing and wet sets. If you haven't read the first article on Basic Wet Sets, please do before continuing.
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:

Set 'n Style 1976

Set 'n Style 1976

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:

Set 'n Style, Winter, 1982 Set 'n Style, Winter, 1982

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

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:

Over 200 New Hair Setting Patterns 1969
Great for lots of “mussed up” waves or curls, pick smaller rollers for curls, and larger ones for waves, and set them in no particular order. Just make sure that all of you hair is in in curlers, and and try an keep most of the rollers the same size for best results. Easy to do, and great results!

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:

Set 'n Style, Winter, 1982
Set 'n Style, Winter, 1982

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.

Thanks Pete for another informative and inspirational article!! I myself can't wait to try the Halo Setting. I think it will work well with my long hair.
Dear readers, don't hesitate to send me pics of your settings and styles that you have learned here. I'd love to feature you!!


aurelia said...

I have had Pete's flickr stream bookmarked for quite some time and enjoy looking at it every few months.

Thanks for giving him the opportunity to guest blog.

Courtney said...

It's interesting to see all these patterns where the rollers all lay side to side. The patterns I started out on when I began rolling my hair had the top rolls rolled front to back so the rollers layed like they do in these diagrams, but all additional layers rolled front to back with roller laying top to bottom. Did I explain that in a way that makes sense? I'll have to try some of Pete's diagrams some time.

Kristen said...

What a fun post. I have long straight hair, so I like to curl it sometimes for some variety. But curling irons take forever with long hair, so I often use curlers. It is good to know about the patterns and how they impact the final product.

Miss Matilda said...

love this ~ your blog is adorable! x

Marie Jean said...

Rollersetting is vintage? *confused* I guess all those Dominican hair salons and their clients must be stuck in a time warp.

Unknown said...

Roller setting in it self is still a modern practice but it now has to compete with perms, hot rollers, and curling irons. Here we are showing vintage setting patterns from vintage magazines when it was a very common practice.

Anonymous said...

I love wet sets.I am a strait male who has been getting a regular wash and set at a beauty parlor by me for 12 years(9 2/3 years at one and 2+ years at my current one).
I originally had fantastic curly hair that "fizzled out" in my 30s and needed to get back what I once had,so I read up on and got a perm--HUGE MISTAKE.The set(smallest rods)was wonderful,I got fully lotioned, waited,rinsed,PICKED OUT(No comb out),paid and went home.I soon developed a BAD itch that got worse resulting in SOME hair loss. I had a bad reaction to the lotions(I WAS NEVER SKIN TESTED) After a time of settling,it was suggested "Why don't you just get a regular roller set every week?" ----WONDERFUL IDEA.
For a time,not knowing how I'd be taken in for a regular beauty parlor weekly roller set,I set myself every week.I got all of what I needed,and the setting pattern for the haido I wanted,and went from there.
In order to position all of the curlers evenly on my head I used those bulky(and hard)C-clamp curlers)to set my hair every week.I would set my hair on Sunday,using mirrors in the bathroom after I washed and lotioned--it was easy using those curlers than the ones in the beauty parlors.I'd spend all day with my hair up in those curlers doing inside work for the week ahead.I'd have to sleep in them since I didn't have a hairdryer (I HAVE NO IDEA HOW WOMEN SAID THAT THEY SLEEP IN CURLERS ONCE A WEEK--IT'S HELL).
I'd get up Monday morning,get washed,dressed,take the curlers out,pick the finished hairdo,spray and go to work.After a time,I gave up and went for the easy option,I walked into another beauty parlor by me and asked for a roller set and I was welcomed with open arms. It's much easier on me to get my hair washed then sit in a chair while someone else sets my hair(now using the smoothe magnetic rollers).I got a better softer set and I never had to worry about setting my own hair again.
The magnetic rollers are easier used with someone over me setting my hair.I get alot of compliments from WOMEN who either think it's a perm or are fasinated that I'm a regular salon customer.The conversations That I have with the women when we're under the dryers together are wonderful.Going into a beauty parlor and getting a simple roller set feels really good and does BRING BACK THE OLD day.I wish more would start doing them again.-JOSEPH

Anonymous said...

Wow. I too am a straight male who loves wet sets. Some years ago I had my hair wet set in perm rods at a salon on a Friday evening as a way to 'try on' a perm. I got compliments on my hair from the gals the next day after the first wash and natural dry, but was shy about admitting just how I got the look! A funny memory, but maybe I will try again and tell the truth!