Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fall for Cotton: 50s pattern and fabric inspiration

Do you need a little bit of inspiration for Fall for Cotton? I know many of our sew-alongers have 1950s styles on their mind, so I wanted to share a few combinations of patterns and fabric to give you a fun 50s look for your project!

I adore McCall 4987 from 1959 (38" bust), with the contrast inset panel and kimono sleeves. This would be great in a mid-weight cotton with some structure. You could easily sew it up all in one color but I think part of the charm is the contrast panel! I could see it in a bold print with autumn colors like Loulouthi Fabric Clippings in Glow (say that 10 times fast) from Anna Maria Horner, with a rich brown or rusty orange as the contrast panel. Or maybe go more vibrant with aqua or pink!

{Source: pattern—Etsy / fabric—}

Below is Simplicity 3586 from 1955 (32" bust), actually a pattern I own! I love the 4-gore bias cut skirt. It gives you the opportunity to play with a great striped pattern like Cynthia Rowley's Paintbox Garden Stripe, if you're so inclined. If I did that, I think I'd go with a solid-colored belt and ribbon trim to break things up a bit. The pattern also comes with the transfer for the soutache braid on the solid version!

{Source: pattern—Etsy / fabric—}

Advance 6552 (being sold by the lovely vintage blogger Atomic Redhead) is a drool-worthy pinafore dress, a look I feel was more common in the 40s than the 50s, so this pattern is a great find. What I particularly love about it is how the different views give you a variety of fabric ideas. Go with a solid dress but contrasting ruffles, try an allover print like a small vintage floral, or use a novelty print fabric or border print!

Did you guys know I was obsessed with gnomes? Well I am. And I'll tell you I would totally sew this up in Michael Miller's Gnomeville Border with red polka dots and a gnome-themed border print. It would be a match made in novelty-print heaven.

{Source: pattern—Etsy / vintage floral fabric—Etsy / border print fabric—}

Simplicity 4665 is only a tiny 30" bust, but how awesome are these blouses? (Upper left, I'm talking to you!) They'd be great in a vintage print cotton for a casual day look with a solid-colored pencil skirt or full skirt. Or try a pretty cotton sateen to kick it into something appropriate for evening or a special occasion!

{Source: pattern—Etsy / cotton print fabric—Etsy / cotton sateen—Mood Fabrics}

Don't forget, when shopping for fabric, read the fabric recommendations on your pattern, modern or vintage! While vintage patterns only have drawings on the envelope, you can sometimes get a decent idea of the drape just based on that. A cotton voile isn't going to work well for a full 1950s skirt with a crinoline underneath, just like an upholstery-weight fabric won't work for a nice lightweight summer blouse.

What's inspiring you for the sew-along? As you figure it out (I still have to myself!), be sure to share your pattern and fabric choices in our Flickr group!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fall for Cotton: vintage fabric shopping, part 2

When last we met, I talked about hunting down vintage cotton fabric for Fall for Cotton, and discussed fiber content, condition and my thoughts on getting a good deal. Today, let's talk about the actual shopping part! That's the fun part! Well, sometimes it's the fun part... sometimes it's just annoying. Ha!

Where can I find vintage fabric shopping in person?

Flea markets, antique malls and thrift stores come to mind! Depending on where you go, where you live, the angle of the sun and if you're holding your nose and standing on one leg, you might find a great deal... or someone trying to hose you.

I personally don't get to hit thrift stores nearly as often as I'd like, so I can't really say I've had a lot of luck finding fabric there, but I know people have! As well as finding actual fabric yardage or remnants, don't be afraid to think outside the box when you're thrifting. Large cotton duvet covers, flat and fitted sheets, and pillowcases are all great sources of fabric! You can often find fun patterns or nice solids, and even novelty prints. And at most thrift stores, they'll be cheap! If you're looking for heavier fabric, drapery fabric can also be a nice way to go.

Now how about flea markets, antique malls and vintage fairs?  I tend to find better deals in booths where the seller isn't focused on linens. When I walk into booths where there are stacks and stacks of gorgeous old fabric, I know I'm probably going to walk out empty-handed. Why? I find those specialty booths tend to charge higher prices. Whereas the person selling a random assortment of goods is often more likely to have a good deal. Of course, this logic doesn't always play out as I've found linen vendors with reasonable prices, and also non-specialty vendors who want you to sign your life away in blood because they think what they have is so rare. So it pays to check everything! I'm just telling you how my own experiences tend to go.

Can I actually find vintage fabric online?

Totally! Although just like in person, it can be a hunt! Etsy and eBay are the biggest places to look of course. You can also get lucky finding a deal on TIAS and occasionally Ruby Lane, both of which are online antique malls.

In my experience, I find that there tend to be better and more accurate descriptions and better photos on Etsy listings than on eBay, but sometimes you may pay a little more for it. So it's up to you to decide how and where you want to hunt.

eBay seems to be a little more of a free for all, and narrowing down by keywords only gets you so far. While it can be a problem on Etsy sometimes too, I find way more eBay sellers using words like '1950s', '1940s' and/or 'vintage' when what they're selling is a modern reproduction (or just retro). It can be frustrating sifting through 350 Michael Miller prints. I'm not knocking Michael Miller, I love those fabrics! But when you're on the hunt for vintage fabric, that's obviously not what you're looking for. I find it's often a little easier to narrow results down to the actual items you're searching for on Etsy than on eBay, but your mileage may vary.

  • Read the descriptions thoroughly. And don't be afraid to contact the seller with questions if the description doesn't answer them all! They're usually happy to provide you with more info. This is especially important if they don't mention whether or not there are stains or holes. Some sellers assume "vintage" also equals "some problems exist" without actually telling you what those issues are, and that's not cool. If there is any question, ask them. 
  • Look for listings that indicate the seller has actually looked at the fabric carefully and said something like "no apparent flaws noted" or "2 small pinholes 1 inch from the selvage". If there is no indication they've given it a thorough look, I personally won't buy it unless I contact the seller for more info.
  • Watch for "vintage" being thrown in as a keyword when it's not, in fact, vintage. Reading the description (or just looking at the photos) may show it's modern fabric.
  • Watch for the terms "reproduction", "repro", or "vintage style" to indicate it's modern and not vintage.
  • Unsure about the fabric content when purchasing online? I've had quite good luck in this regard and I'm almost always looking for 100% cotton, so I don't worry too much about it (see above about asking questions if you're unsure), but remember I do this hunt a lot. :) If you stick to looking for 1940s or 1950s cottons, you're much safer than if you are looking for 60s or 70s and later, as those decades were much more likely to have poly blends. You can always do a burn test (see my previous post), but remember only 100% cotton will work for this sew-along.

Be specific when you search online—really specific

Okay seriously, this point is so important it gets its own section! It's one of the crucial keys to the magical vintage fabric shopping online kingdom. Okay maybe not that important, but it sure does help.

Use specific terms and operators to your advantage when searching. Fabric is out there, you just have to find it! Take a look at this basic search first as an example: 

search terms: 1950s cotton 

Over 10,000 results, and notice they aren't limited to fabric, either. In fact, most are clothes (not including the sponsored search results in the first row of course). You can either put the word 'fabric' in there or limit your search results to the Craft Supplies category (left-hand column). I went the first route below.

That's better! But since there's over a thousand results, you can always limit it further. On both eBay and Etsy, you can use the minus ( - ) sign with a word so it does not get included. This is probably just as important as what you do want to search for!

search terms: 1950s cotton fabric -polyester -reproduction -repro -fat

Why '-fat'? That means no results will show up that are fat quarters, or a quarter of a yard of fabric, which is often used by quilters. (There's nothing wrong with them, they're just small, so not suited for full garments.) You can also add in the word 'yard' or 'yardage' if you'd like, although people don't always specify that in the listing. If the seller is unfamiliar with fabric, they might just give you the dimensions.

Maybe you'd like to get more specific with your search? Narrow it down to a particular color, or perhaps novelty prints, or holiday themes? Throw anything you like in there.

search terms: 1950s cotton fabric red novelty -polyester -reproduction -repro -fat

Now there's only 16 results for such a narrow search, but right off the bat I saw several I loved the looks of and would like to investigate. And at least one modern retro fabric, and a couple of household items, but that's to be expected.

And that's how it goes! Try narrower searches and wider ones alternately. Try a search that includes the word 'vintage' but then see if you get any better results specifying a decade. Use search terms like '1950s -50s' and then later '50s -1950s'... that will search for items where the seller used one way to write a decade but not the other. (By the way, these tips also apply to shopping for vintage clothing online... hint, hint!)

Think wisely about how you search and it may pay off in the end! Oh yeah, and it probably goes without saying, but be prepared for a major timesuck if you decide to start shopping for vintage fabric online. Ask me how I know...

{Source: Sears Catalog, Spring 1954}

In the end, finding vintage cotton isn't too difficult, but it takes a bit of work to make sure you know what you're getting, and you feel good about the price you're paying and the quality of the fabric. Sadly we'll never have the swoon-worthy assortment of options available in decades past, but we can still get lucky now and again with a lovely piece of vintage fabric!

And don't worry, if vintage fabric isn't your thing or you'd rather go modern, Rochelle has a great post for you on shopping for modern cottons!

Do you have some vintage fabric hunting tips to share that would help out fellow Fall for Cotton sew-alongers? Please share in the comments or in our Flickr group!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fall for Cotton: vintage fabric shopping, part 1

Are you thinking about your fabric choices for Fall for Cotton yet? I admit, I'm not quite yet, as I still have to figure out what I'm going to sew!

I know that at least a few of you in the sew-along are hoping or planning to use original vintage fabric. Since you know I sometimes use vintage fabric when I sew, I figured this would be a great topic to talk about. I have shopped for vintage fabric a lot, and while I'm certainly no expert, I hope my tips will come in handy for some of you sew-alongers!

{Source: Sears Catalog, Fall 1947}

Vintage fabric is just so swoon-worthy, isn't it? We all wish we had the myriad of options available then, but sadly that's not the case. Of course, there are reproductions available and plenty of retro prints, which are a wonderful alternative and especially great when you want a vintage look but with the assurance of modern durability, or just want to be able to go to a store and buying something off the shelf. (And trust me, speaking as someone who's spent more hours than she cares to admit sleuthing for vintage goods, that can be a mighty nice thing indeed.)

But original vintage fabric is still out there, too, and can be found! The prints, the colors... they set my heart a-flutter. For ease of care I lean towards modern fabric more often, but that isn't going to stop me from finding and sewing up vintage fabric whenever I can, while it's still around. :)

I'm going to break this topic up into two parts since there's a lot to talk about. Today, I'll cover fiber content, condition and getting a good deal. Next time I'll talk about shopping online and in person!

How do I know if it's 100% cotton?

The main issue with using vintage fabric for Fall for Cotton is that we're trying to limit ourselves here to 100% cotton. (By the way, if you asked any fabric content questions on either Lucky Lucille, here, or on Flickr, please see this thread Rochelle started in the Flickr Group for more clarification on fabric content, lining, etc.)

When buying vintage fabric, you might not know exactly what you're getting.

Sometimes it's pretty easy to know that what you have is cotton, and sometimes... not so much. But that doesn't mean you can't find out! You can do a burn test (please be careful!) on a very small snippet of fabric to find out more about the fabric content. Here are a few great places to start:
If it turns out your fabric isn't cotton or is a synthetic blend, that doesn't mean it's not wonderful! It just means you can save it for another great vintage project after the sew-along. :)

Am I getting a good deal?

Well, this is the subjective part. Just like vintage anything, what two people are willing to pay for the same item can vary dramatically. So I really can't answer that question for you. But what I can do is tell you how I think it through!

Decide how much you'd willingly spend on similar modern fabric. Take a cotton print, for example. Is your budget closer to $8 a yard or $25 a yard? Obviously that's a big difference. Then decide if you're willing to spend the same, a little more, or less on the equivalent vintage fabric. That's all up to you. And keep in mind that most pre-1960s vintage fabrics (and some later ones) are 36" wide vs. 44" or wider with most modern fabrics, so yard-for-yard you get a little less with the vintage fabric.

I sew with both modern and vintage fabrics. And I personally don't like to spend more on vintage fabric than I'd spend on modern fabric. I don't want the final garment to feel so precious that I never wear it, and I personally can start to feel that way if the supplies are really expensive! Of course there have been a few exceptions when I have fallen absolutely head-over-heals over something, but when I see $40 for 2 yards of vintage printed cotton (putting it at $20 a yard), no matter how awesome the print, I will walk away from it. But if $25 or more a yard is regularly your price point for cotton prints, then you might think differently.

Since I don't personally tend to like to spend a lot of money on fabric (see above comment about not wanting things to feel too precious!), I don't tend to spend a lot of money on vintage fabric, either. So think about your modern fabric spending habits and how you'd like that to apply to vintage fabric.

You don't have to spend a lot to get great vintage fabric, you just may have to be willing to put in a lot of time looking. I have found plenty of lovely vintage cottons in very good condition for under $10 a yard! Most recently, I bought this beautiful floral cotton on Etsy for $4 a yard. I may even have enough for a dress!

What about the condition?

Just like the price you pay, the condition of vintage fabric you buy is a personal decision. Are you willing to deal with a few stains or holes? There's a big difference between the light spots on the vintage cotton below on the left versus the 1 inch holes in the feedsack on the right:

The spots on the left are smaller than the head of an eraser and don't bother me (actually they look worse in the photo than in person), but the holes in the feedsack are much more difficult to work around.

Maybe you'll be more lenient on trouble spots if you thrifted it for a buck or two or got an awesome deal (like the holey feedsack), and less if you paid a little more? Or maybe you only want pristine fabric? You'll have to draw your own line in the sand.

I tend to be more forgiving about holes or stains if I'm shopping in person (and getting a good deal), because I can easily assess how easy or difficult it'll be to work around problem areas. Online, I much prefer to purchase fabric that has no noticeable issues. A seller's idea of a few "light" stains might be quite different than yours.

All in all, I've found plenty of vintage cotton that's in great condition with tons of life left in it. It just takes some work to find it!

{Source: Sears Catalog, Spring 1958}

In part 2 on shopping for vintage cotton fabric for Fall for Cotton, I'll talk about finding vintage fabric in person and online, with lots of tips especially for you online shoppers. And of course don't forget, you can use any fabric you want so long as it's 100% cotton, it sure doesn't have to be vintage! I just wanted to cover vintage fabric for those of you who are interested in using it. Rochelle will be talking non-vintage fabric soon!

Don't forget to join the Flickr group to check in with your fellow sew-alongers and keep tagging your Instagram photos and tweets with #fallforcotton!

Monday, August 19, 2013

By Gum, By Golly now on Facebook

Hello everyone! It's been so much fun seeing all the excitement being generated for the Fall for Cotton sew-along. Remember to keep following along on Lucky Lucille, the Flickr group, and right here!

Just a quick post today to let you know that By Gum, By Golly is finally on Facebook. You can now follow me here:

I'm not at all wise in the ways of Facebook, so I'll be getting my feet wet slowly as I figure things out. :)

If you pop over there you'll also notice a new header, which is a tiny sneak peek of an upcoming redesign of this blog by my talented friend Joelle over at Moxie Design Studios. To say I'm super excited about the redesign is an understatement!

So stop on by and join By Gum, By Golly on Facebook!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fall for Cotton: a vintage sew-along

Today is an exciting day!

Rochelle and I have been putting our heads together for awhile now, and you may have seen a hint or two here and there, but we're ready to let you all know about our newest sewing collaboration.

Lucky Lucille and By Gum, By Golly present... Fall For Cotton: a vintage sewing challenge for the cotton lover!

This is a sew-along for those of you who, like us, love sewing vintage styles and think cotton fabric is amazing. Don't think of it as a sewing competition, but as a fun way to challenge yourself. Limit your fabric choices, sew a vintage style, meet a deadline, and make some new friends!

Intrigued? Great! Here's the scoop.

Any vintage decade from the 1920s through the 1970s is fair game. But you're only allowed to use fabric that is 100% cotton. You heard right! It must be 100% cotton.

There are lots of varieties of cotton you can choose! Quilting cottons, flannel, twill, corduroy, voile, broadcloth, sateen, and chambray (to name a few) are all great options. Get it? If it's cotton, it's all good!

This sewalong will work much like how Rochelle ran the wonderful Sew For Victory sewalong. You can pick your own pattern and work at your own pace. You can use a vintage pattern, a reproduction pattern, or any modern pattern that helps your recreate your vintage look!

When's the kickoff? Well, that's today of course! That gives you about two weeks to gather your supplies, so you can be prepared to start sewing on the 1st of September. Although it doesn't matter when you actually start sewing, as long as you have your finished project photographed and uploaded to the Fall For Cotton Flickr Pool by the end of Monday, September 30th.

We encourage everyone to join us on Flickr and upload photos of your inspirations and your progress, and get involved in the discussions all along the way! Use the hashtag #fallforcotton on Twitter and Instagram to check in with your fellow sewalongers and show off what you're making! We'll be posting some inspiration and helpful hints, so be sure to follow along on our blogs.

So are you excited yet?! We certainly are! Here's the low down:
  • Join the Flickr group Fall For Cotton and introduce yourself in the discussion
  • Pick a pattern that helps you recreate a garment from your favorite vintage decade: 1920s through 1970s 
  • Pick any fabric that's 100% cotton 
  • Start gathering supplies now, and plan to start sewing on September 1st 
  • Have your finished garment photographed and uploaded to Flickr by the end of Monday, September 30th 
  • One finished project = one chance to win some awesome prizes at the end of the sewalong! 

Now grab a button and spread the word!

Fall For Cotton Button - 300 px wide
Code for 300px button, copy and paste this in your sidebar.

 Fall For Cotton Button - 200 px wide
Code for 200px button, copy and paste this in your sidebar.

Remember, this isn't a sewing competition. This is a fun way to challenge yourself by limiting your fabric choices, sewing a vintage style, meeting a deadline, and making new friends!

Join us and let's have some fun! Are you in?!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A fast roller set for everyday vintage hair

Two years ago I did a long tutorial on a sponge/foam roller set, and it continues to be one of my most popular posts. It's time for an update, I think! So today I'm going to show you my fast and basic daily roller set for everyday vintage hair, and how I brush it out.

While I try other techniques, setting patterns, methods and products now and again, this is my tried and true. I go for casual curls, an everyday look you might see in vintage catalogs or photos. Remember Solanah's post on 1943 yearbook hair inspiration? That's just what I aim for: casual vintage hair. Not special occasion hair, but everyday hair.

But I aim to do it fast. People are sometimes surprised at how little time I spend on my hair. While I like having a vintage hairstyle, I'm just not interested in spending a lot of time on it. (And vintage or not, that's always been the case.) On freshly washed hair it takes me about 10 to 12 minutes to set it. On previously-set hair any other day (i.e. "next day hair" that's still holding a curl), about 6 or 7 minutes. A few minutes to brush out in the morning and that's it. If it took longer, I probably wouldn't do it. Seriously.

This is truly a tutorial for the everyday vintage girl who doesn't want to (or doesn't have time to) spend a lot of time on her hair, but wants something relaxed and casual she can do any day. So let's get to it!

  • sponge/foam rollers, about 1" in diameter for the length of your hair... you can use rag rollers, perm rods, pillow rollers, bendy stick rollers or any other type and still follow this tutorial! (And hey, if you like the result of sponge rollers but they bother you to sleep in, check out Fiona's brilliant roller hack, that's a cross between sponge rollers and rag rollers!)
  • duckbill clips (optional)
  • Lottabody setting lotion or Motions Foam Wrap Lotion (I tend to change this up about once a season)
  • a frizz control serum, cream and/or pomade (whatever you find works for you on damp hair and dry hair after brushing out)
  • a spray bottle of water 

I slowly whittled away the number of rollers I use over time, until I discovered the minimum number that still gets me good results: 8 or 9, not including whatever I do with my bangs. Lately I've added a couple back in, so I hover around 11 currently for collarbone-length hair. If I want more volume in the back or on the light side of my part, I add more. The more rollers you use the longer it takes, naturally, so feel free to use more or less and play around until you get a number that works for you.

The rollers I use for my whole head are about 1" in diameter. The rollers I use for my bangs are 3/4".

  • Use setting lotion! I use Lottabody in a small spray bottle (about 3 parts Lottaboddy to 1 part water) or Motions Foam Wrap lotion (which is a foam you pump out). I know some people like Layrite Grooming Spray which I keep meaning to try, but vintage hair expert Lauren Rennells updated a post last year saying it now smells more like a man's product, so I'm less inclined to bother to try it.
  • Like in a pin curl set, if you're going for a 1930s or 1940s look, don't place the rollers at the back of your head higher than just above the top of your ears. If you want a tighter 50s 'do or just more of a full head of big, bouncy curls, higher is fine. But the goal for most earlier styles is a flat crown, so if that's your goal, don't roll too high up your head.
  • Apply setting lotion to each individual section of hair as you set it, not your whole head before you do it. It'll dry too fast. 
  • You can comb each section through as you roll it, but it's faster to just use your fingers. I have noticed no difference in results. If you have naturally very curly or wavy hair though, you might need to use a comb.
  • If you use sponge rollers and they get dented in the middle over time, just run them under water and squeeze out the excess. When they dry, they'll be back to normal. 

  • Don't set your head straight out of the shower unless you are planning 12+ hours in your rollers. It takes much longer for hair to dry in rollers than normally. If you shower before bed and set your hair right away, your hair won't be dry enough to take out your rollers when you wake up. This is a wet set, but you really want damp, not wet. (Unless you have a cool vintage hood dryer!)
  • If your hair dries before you get a chance to set it, give it several spritzes with a spray bottle of water to dampen it. 
  • Don't use rollers that are too big. You will not get curls, you'll get waves or just body. Likewise don't use teensy ones unless you're going for a poodle 'do.

After I wash my hair, I use a little bit of Layrite pomade and/or Frizz Ease in my damp hair... if I remember. How's that for honesty? When it's still wet I part my hair how I want to set it, then I go about my day or evening until I'm ready to put in my rollers.

If my hair isn't still damp when I put my rollers in, I spritz it well with water first. Here's my normal, slightly damp, combed hair.

(Please pardon the fact that I'm growing out the black dye and going back to close to my natural medium brown. I currently have a lot of roots and grays but haven't gotten a touch up since I might be getting a perm soon, which will strip out some of the dye anyway. Moving right along now that the pardons are out of the way...)

I start by fixing my bangs, which are about chin length. (Should I even bother calling them bangs at this point, isn't it just a long layer? But I digress again.)

I have the rest of my hair clipped back just so it's easier for you to see. I don't bother clipping my hair back at any point during the setting process as it slows things down. We're going for speedy, remember?

I use three small rollers, rolled away from my part. My goal here is a small forward roll with them, but I can also backcomb them a bit and get the hair to go backwards if I want (I did for this updo). Sometimes if I know I want to do something different with my bangs, I do a series of standing pin curls that alternate rows facing towards and away from my part, but those don't fall into the quick-roller-set category today, so you're seeing what I normally do.

I start with a small section of my bangs closest to the part, spraying it with setting lotion. Then I run my hands along the section of hair to make sure the setting lotion covers it. Again, you could use a comb, but it's faster this way.

By the way, you may notice this is the part of the tutorial where it switches to "watch my dog watch me in the mirror."

I roll up that section to the base of my head, while holding the hair at a 90° angle to my head (i.e. straight up).

And then do the second and third rollers the same way. If I didn't have bangs, or this section was much longer, I'd use one or two 1-inch rollers going either backwards or forwards to give my roots more lift... my hair doesn't have a lot of body naturally.

(By the way, it's using small rollers like this that allowed me to successfully grow out Bettie Page style bangs twice. I used 4 half-inch rollers and just brushed it into a little curl fluff and called it my 1959 Barbie bangs.)

Then I move to the heavy side of my part, on the side of my head in front of my ears. Again, the rest is clipped back here only so you can see what I'm doing.

I use two rollers above my ear, rolling to the base of my head (but not so tight it pinches). I start at the top and work my way down because it's faster than starting at the bottom, clipping up layers of hair and unclipping them to do the next layer. Again, going for speed here.

For each section I roll, I spray with setting lotion. To keep it from spraying everywhere, I kind of cup the hair in my hand, and spritz it 3-4 times down the length of the hair. Then I run my hands along that hair to get the setting lotion all over. If you use Motions Foam, you'd just pump some into your hand and run it along the section of hair.

The way I set my hair, the majority of the rollers are placed off base, meaning they are held at a 45° angle to the head in the direction rolled. This results in less fullness higher up your head, which is usually what I'm going for with my everyday style.

However, I personally like the heavier side of my part to be fairly full, so the two rollers at the front I place half off base, which is held at a 90° angle to the head.

Here's an example of the difference between these rolling styles:

So this is how I roll the heavier side of my part in front of my ears.

The roller below it goes in the same way. Every other roller after this I place off base, so I won't bother mentioning it again. Experiment and see what you like! This is actually inspiring me to try a set with half off base rollers and see what happens. :)

Next, I make a section just next to the front. This section will get 3 rollers, with the topmost one just above the top of my ear, but not higher.

You can see how the rollers are placed, below.

Before moving to the other side of my head, I turn the bar of the top front roller down towards my head and insert a duckbill clip to keep it there. That helps prevent a dent from forming and you can't even feel it when you sleep. I used to do that on every top roller but lately have only bothered with the sides. You can do it or not do it as you like.

Here's a tip: I sometimes like a little wave at the front side of my head on the heavy side of my part, so I tilt the top roller down a bit. If you do that, make sure when you put your scarf on to sleep that it's still facing that way.

Then I move to the light side of my part and use one roller. I personally like this side with a little less curl, as I often tuck it behind my ear. But if you want both sides of your head to be more equal or if your part is less deep, you can use 2 or even 3 rollers. Sorry, this is the one bit I forgot to photograph! But you can see the one roller in the photos below.

Next is the hair beside that roller, which I separate into two or three rollers like I did on the other side of my part.

 Then the front top roller (there's only the one in front in my case) gets a duckbill clip, too.

What's left is the center back. Again I use 2 or 3 rollers. On occasion when I get to this spot it seems extra wide, so instead of cramming all the hair into one vertical row, I'll put in 2.

And those are all the rollers!

Last, I spray my whole head a few times with water.

Then I don a cotton scarf (it moves around less on my head than silk). I like to make sure my rollers aren't all poking around in funny directions, so I push them down a bit when I put on the scarf.

Hey, can I talk about my PJs here for a sec? This was about the most exciting vintage find I've had in ages, a 1940s rayon pajama set and matching full-length quilted robe (which unfortunately ran quite a bit when I hand washed it so the colors are darker than the pajamas, but I almost never dry clean anything so it was an understood risk). I bought the set last year at a local antique mall for $25, in a booth I've had luck finding clothes in for literally 10 years. At the same time in the same booth, Liz found two wonderful vintage dresses at a reasonable price, too. I didn't think the pajama pants would fit as the waistband looked too small but I tried them on anyway, and I was giddy to find out they did indeed fit. Oh happy day!

So back to hair. Well actually, it's time for bed. (In boxers and a tank top, in the interest of full disclosure.)

Now for the next morning...

Vintage hair is as much about the brush out as it is the set. Different techniques, lengths of brushing and the texture and length of your hair can lead to different results from the same setting pattern. But I'll show you what I do, and how just a little bit of change can get you different looks, all easy and casual and perfect for everyday wear.

When I take my rollers out, I unwind them gently, and in no particular order. Don't tug them out! I often hold the curl high up and twist the roller in a clockwise direction to free it.

 When the rollers are out, it looks a little something like this.

 Time to brush! I brush my bangs out a couple of times with long strokes. Looks really hilarious!

Because it gets in my way while I'm brushing the rest of my hair, I sometimes just loosely curl that lock of hair around my finger so it stays out of my way (though sometimes I like the result and I'll just pin it to my head that way). If you don't have bangs to contend with, you'd just be brushing everything out at this point.

Onto brushing the rest of my hair. I take one section at a time starting at the front right (personal preference), and brush from the base of my head down to the end, smoothing the hair in that section with my hand as I go. It goes kind of like: brush / hand stroke / brush / hand stroke.

I don't brush my actual scalp much as my hair tends to end up greasy quickly when doing that with a bristle brush, so I usually lean my head out a little bit as I brush. (Just telling you since I didn't do that taking these photos.)

I repeat that a few times with the same handful of hair, then I grab another handful of hair and do the same thing, just going around my head until I get to the other side.

Sometimes what you end up with is totally different on each side (especially if you have different amount of rollers on each side like I did). Keep going if you get weirdo results like this, it's okay!

If you do find that you have a troublesome section, don't smooth the hair down as you brush. Go over your whole head once or twice until you get something resembling clown hair, then just start back at it.

But if you want a fluffy and bouncy head of curls, you can stop when it's starting to look something like this! Or, you know, somewhere between sleek and clown.

Then go back around and touch up as needed, smoothing the hair down slightly with a hand to tame it back into submission.

At this point you are just going to have to learn how your hair reacts and what you want it to do! This is what my hair does... and your hair won't be the same. :)

Once I get my hair about how I'd like it, I do my front roll. If you aren't doing one you can obviously ignore this step. I brush this section of hair out again, then starting at the end and keeping the hair fairly taut as I go, roll it into essentially a large sculpture pin curl. I roll it tightly to the base of my head.

(Sometimes I actually remember to put a little pomade on it beforehand. Not here, so it's a bit fuzzy.)

 Then I insert a bobby pin in both ends to anchor it to my head.

 And now I have a happy little roll!

It takes me less than 5 minutes to brush out and fully style my hair in the morning, but keep in mind I've been doing this for years. It will take you longer at first, but the more you do it, the more adept you'll get and the faster you'll be at it. You'll always have occasional days where your hair acts like absolute crap, and those are great days to hide problem areas with hair flowers, headbands, scarves, hats and the like.

What I showed here is a somewhat sleek style, with most of the curl brushed down towards the lower half of the length of my hair, and smoothed a lot with my hand as I went along. (If I were stopping here, I'd usually add a little pomade or frizz cream, use some hairspray and go about my day.)

Your results will vary, of course. It depends on how tight your curls turn out vs. how loose you want them to be, how thick or fine your hair is (mine is pretty fine), how long it is, etc. In the summer I tend to brush my hair out more thoroughly as I know it's going to drop more during the day, since humidity is a curl's worst enemy. Also if you're new to hair setting, it's worth noting that the way it looks when you finish brushing and the way it looks even 15 minutes later when things start to settle into place can be a little different.

Oh, remember how I said you can try and work a little wave into your hair if you angle the top side roller down? Check it out after a little more brushing, where I used the brush to angle the hair forwards a bit and then back towards my ear once I hit the curly bottom:

That wave is much more pronounced in the way I styled my hair in this post.

Now, if you want a looser style, are planning victory rolls or intend to pull back sections away from your face with combs or barrettes, you may opt to skip smoothing your hair down with your hand as you brush, and just brush through your hair freely.

For instance, below I brushed my hair until it was getting closer to clown-hair, and then pulled the side back with a comb and a hair flower, and you can see the curls are more fluffy and full:

You could also brush and run your fingers through the curls a bit for a looser look, then pull it back on either side with a comb (Grip Tuth is the only brand that works in my fine hair). That's how I styled it below:

 Or maybe use a wide ribbon as a headband to pull it away from your face a bit:

There's lots of possibilities with this set! Of course, you can use it for fancier styles and updos, but this tutorial was about fast and easy. About 10 minutes a night with practice, and a few minutes to brush out in the morning.

Just some info on what I do later that night. If I set my hair fresh the day before, I can go one night sleeping on my curls and have a similar-but-longer-and-wavier version the next day, but that's it. And in summer, I can often only get very loose waves the next day. You'll quickly learn what your hair will and won't do! When I'm not being lazy, I just re-set my hair that night and each night thereafter until I need to wash my hair.

To re-set my hair I use the same setting pattern, but I dip my fingers in a small bowl of water and run it over the section I'm rolling to very slightly dampen it, then roll it, without using more setting lotion. (Some days I just use the spray bottle with water again, but don't get it so wet that you lose the curl.) The rolling is really easy as the ends of the hair just spring back into position on the roller, so it goes much faster than a fresh wet set!

When I'm done I give my head several spritzes with water, then I wrap it in a scarf. The next morning's brush out follows the same routine as the night before. And I simply repeat that process until I need to wash my hair again. I find that just before my hair gets gross enough to wash, I can do fun and slightly more sleek styles than my usual casual curls.

And that's it! A fast way to vintage curls using rollers, from an everday vintage gal who's spent a lot of time over the years figuring out how to spend the least amount of time possible on her hair!

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