Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A new hobby...a new challenge.

I've started sewing.  I'm not very good at it, I must admit, but one needs a challenge every now and then.  I'm currently part way through this pattern.
A very simple skirt and cape pattern, or so I thought.

 I have a couple of bits of the skirt to unpick and resew as it came out larger than expected  (No, I didn't make a muslin.  Yes, I know that is silly) but all in all it is starting to take shape.  Hopefully I will start putting the cape together in the next week or so.

It's a very tiny red and black check.  The fabric came from a car boot sale.
Just enough for the skirt.  Cape will be black with this fabric as accents.

Slightly too big, so am going to unpick and start again.
I hate unpicking so this is a valuable lesson.

A blouse I am making to match from a pattern with no instructions.
Yep, I tend to go all out when I'm trying to learn something.

I thought I'd also share my latest sewing pattern purchase.  Feast your eyes on this baby from 1934.

Yes, it even has the original receipt in the envelope.

It says it is a beginner pattern, and I'm certainly that so lets hope I can manage it!

I'm thinking view C in a nice pale green slubby wool.

In other news: I've been a busy girl lately - racking up potential blog posts and not having the time to post them so hopefully this week I'll get a chance to update you all.

I've changed my hair colour, indulged in some delicious French food and attended a hair styling session.  I've been to the theatre and also owe you some hair setting posts.  Gotta get back on the horse.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Ready, get SET go!

Yep, another bad pun – I do love a bad pun.

I’ve had a lot of questions about setting lotion lately – both online and in real life - so I thought a quick post on what it is and what it does might be useful. Back to basics for a lot of you I’m sure but that never hurt anyone.

So. Let's begin at the beginning...

What is it?

Well, somewhat obviously, setting lotion is product that is applied to hair in order to set styles. i.e. to make them neater and last longer. It comes in many forms – liquids which do or do not need dilution, crèmes such as boots curl crème, foaming products and even gels. Some people even make their own. Some are best applied to wet hair and some to dry – some can be used on both. Finding the right setting lotion for your hair can be a little like finding your Holy Grail foundation, but once you have found it you won’t ever want to change.

Where can I get some?

Proctor and Gamble discontinued setting lotion manufacture recently and so now, if you are restricted to visiting high street chemists you can usually only find those chemists own brand products. I know both Boots and Superdrug have a version. A much wider variety can be found in ethnic hair shops so if you are lucky enough to have access to one, that would be a better option. Finally,. Of course, the internet. Where would we be without it....?

What kind should I buy?

1) Liquids which need dilution: 

The most widely used setting lotion, or at least the most frequently mentioned amongst the vintage sorority, is Lottabody. This comes as a thick liquid which you dilute according to your hair type (instructions on bottle) and can then use to set your hair. This style of lotion is probably the most flexible in that it can be used to set either wet or dry hair. On wet hair you just apply it and then put in your wavers or curlers, whilst on dry hair you can use a comb, your fingers or a small spray bottle to apply it to each individual hair section just prior to curling. You can even use it with a heated set, but make sure you have time for your hair to dry before going out as this stuff will dampen your hair.

Whilst these products do, invariably, increase ones curl there are some drawbacks – lots of liquid style setting lotions are very strong and can make the hair, pre-brush out, quite crunchy. This can make a set both hard to brush out and more likely to frizz as well as being more damaging on the hair. This can also be a problem when setting waves as the teeth of ones wave come leave noticeable marks in a crunchy set. They can also be messy to apply as if you use fingers or a comb little splashes get everywhere and often the mix is too thick to come out of a spray bottle in anything other than a single stream, resulting in the hair not being uniformly covered.

I would say however that these lotions are the ideal starting point for someone trying out the process for the first time.

Brands: Lottabody, Bristows, chemist and supermarket own brands

2) Crèmes and thicker liquids:

In general, I find these are good products for very dry or very thick hair which holds a curl well. The two I have tried and which are “Black n Sassy” and Boots Curl Creme.

The “Black n Sassy” is thickish liquid with a pungent sweet shop / sherbert smell. You apply it to directly to towel dried hair, massage and then comb and set. I actually love the smell of this and it is really conditioning but on my fine hair i only really find it useful for fingerwaves as it leaves my curls droopy. I think it would be great for coarser hair types.

The Boots Curl Creme comes in a pot you can just dip into. I’ve tried this on my hair wet and it had no noticeable effect but it is good for quickly resetting hair on the second or third day and also works very well for setting hair which takes a curl too easily (Yes, that does exist) due to its weight and moisturising properties weighing down hair prone to frizz.
Brands: Boots Curl Creme, Black and Sassy 

3) Mousses and foaming lotions:

My personal all time favourite setting lotion is Motions Foamy set, which comes in both a normal and extra strength version. I find this works beautifully to set my hair without crispiness or drying. This is a liquid in a pump dispenser which, when dispensed forms a foam which can easily be applied either section by section for styles which need a firm hold, or all over the hair for a “bung it up and get to bed” night. The foaming style eliminates mess. Not having to dilute it eliminates wastage. Overall my favourite product. 

Brands: motions foamy set, Soft & Beautiful Botanicals Sculpting Foam, Lottabody Foam Wrap (I must try this one) 

4) Gels
My least favourite option here. I just don’t like gel. It works well for setting fingerwaves but I find most dry hard rather than leaving the hair set but natural looking – which is usually the look you will be after. One exception is fingerwaving shorter afro hair – I’ve heard great things about gel products for this. Just need to find someone to try it out on! 
5) Hair spray 

Hairspray can be an alternative to setting lotion when you are using heat styling methods. A spritz of a brushable hairspray, like Ellnett, on the hair before putting in your hotsticks can really boost their curling power. I’d not advise trying this with a very strong spray however as your curls can be hard to brush out.

6) Home made methods

Yes, if you really fancy it you can make your own setting lotion. Anything from simple sugar or beer and water solutions or a more complicated recipe for making a linseed lotion .

So – there you go. A little summary of my opinions and experience of different setting lotions. I’d love to hear what your favourite lotion is and how you use it.