Your leather shoes may not be as comfortable as when you first got them. This is because leather can change as it loses its shine, elasticity, and softness when exposed to different elements and changes in foot movement. If you want to get your leather into better shape, you may need to help by stretching it.
What Does Stretching Leather Mean and Do?
Leather shoes that fit like a glove for so long may appear like they’ve lost their luster, flexibility, and pliability. To help remedy this, you can stretch the leather to help it feel more comfortable. There’s more than one way to stretch leather shoes, and they all bring their own unique benefits to the process.
Remember that if you’re thinking about stretching the leather of new shoes or boots, don’t do anything until you’ve spent some time breaking in the footwear. Wear them whenever possible to give the leather time to adjust to the size and shape of your foot. If you still want to stretch the leather, then keep on reading!
How to Stretch Leather Shoes
You can stretch your leather shoes, boots, or other leather footwear to help them fit better. Here are some ways to get your leather back into prime shape:
- Leather conditioning is a common way to stretch leather and keep it looking its best. Conditioner moisturizes leather, giving it more flexibility. Leather conditioners also help to improve the appearance of dry, dull shoes or boots.
- When you don’t want too much stretching or to use conditioners on your shoes, try wearing thick socks. If you don’t have thick socks, you can layer them until your foot is snug in the shoe. Make sure you give this technique several hours to work. You may also need to go through this process over multiple days.
- While many people no longer have newspapers, it might be worth picking up yesterday’s news to stuff into your leather footwear. You can also use small towels or washcloths. Simply stuff in the material you’re using to stretch the leather inside, give it time to work, and remove it when ready.
- If you’ve never seen a shoe tree, it’s usually a wooden piece in the general shape of a foot. You can pick one up at a shoe store, bring it home and use it in your shoes whenever you’re not wearing them. You not only help retain the shape of the shoe, but you can also use it to stretch a pair in need of a little extra room.
- Buy a shoe stretching tool. You put these devices in your shoes or boots, crack the stretcher to the desired size and give the process several hours to work. You can adjust and target specific areas of a shoe, giving you more control and precision with the stretching process.
- Leather stretching spray is an excellent choice when you’re too busy or don’t have time to wait for your shoes or boots to stretch. You can spray your handmade leather boots, women’s shoes, dress shoes, or custom leather footwear before you put them on. The spray will work to help stretch the leather, improving the fit. You may want to use a shoe stretcher in your footwear when you’re not wearing them.
- Rubbing alcohol is in most medicine cabinets and can help stretch leather. Add one part alcohol and three parts water (you don’t want to use straight isopropyl alcohol on your leather!), put in a spray bottle, and spritz it on the parts of the shoes or boots you want to be stretched. If possible, wear the footwear immediately or work at stretching the leather with your hands. Wear them until the leather appears to be completely dry.
- If heat contracts and cold expands, then it makes sense that ice is an excellent tool for stretching leather. Pour cold water into two large freezer bags to about ⅓ full each, place them in an empty bag, and ensure both bags are securely sealed. Place the bags in your shoes or boots, making sure the water can reach the areas you want to be stretched. Put your boots with the bags of water in them in the freezer. As the water freezes, it will expand, thereby stretching the leather. When the stretching is finished, remove the footwear from the freezer, and allow it to thaw before removing the water and trying them on.
- Heat your leather for more flexibility. It can soften the leather of any footwear, from Spanish leather boots to dress shoes. Heating is usually best when done using a hair dryer or steamer. For a hair dryer, make sure the heat source is at least six inches from the leather. Steaming should be done in small increments, with you stretching the leather while wearing thick socks in between treatments. After the desired amount of stretching, wear your boots or shoes for the rest of the day to maintain the stretched shape.
- Anyone who doesn’t like stretching their leather shoes or boots can take them to a professional to do it for them. A pro will know how to stretch the leather without risking overstretching or damage.
With so many ways to stretch leather footwear, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Make sure you research every method before you decide on the one that’s right for you.
Be Careful Not to Overstretch Your Leather Footwear
Leather is incredibly durable, but it is possible to be overaggressive in your stretching techniques. Overstretching often happens when left too long with a stretching device in it or applying too much heat. Overstretching can lead to uncomfortable wear, cracking, drying, and breaking seams.
While leather is forgiving, it won’t return to its original shape once you’ve stretched it out too much. The best way to avoid damaging your leather footwear is to seek the help of a professional.
How Long Does It Take to Stretch Leather?
The time it takes to stretch leather items varies greatly depending on the amount of stretching needed, the method you’ll use, and the time you can invest in it. Plan on giving each process a full day unless you’re using a conditioner or other methods that require you to wear your shoes after treatment. You can avoid the work and effort when you hire a professional to do it for you.
Love Your Leather When You Use a Luxury Footwear Service
You don’t have to give away or throw out your favorite leather shoes or boots. With the help of Palmer James Designs, you’ll be thrilled to see how much better your footwear looks and fits. So, make sure you get in touch now using their online form and enjoy the anticipation of having your favorite shoes or boots returned precisely how you love them and ready to wear!