How to Shrink or Stretch Your Leather Shoes For a Perfect Fit

Shoes are one of the most versatile, and useful, fashion accessories. However, shoes can quickly become a pain if they aren’t comfortable. If you have a pair of shoes that don’t fit right, it can ruin your whole day. While it’s important to wear shoes that are comfortable, sometimes you need to make adjustments to get the perfect fit.

If you’ve ever bought a pair of leather shoes only to find that your feet don’t fit the length of the shoe, don’t worry! There are some simple things you can do to both stretch or shrink your leather shoes to make them fit you perfectly. In this article, I am going to show you how to.

When Should You Shrink or Stretch Your Leather Shoes?

To determine whether your leather leather shoes require stretching or shrinking you will need to feel the fit. If the leather shoes are a tight fit, then they will need to be stretched. If the leather shoes are a loose fit, then they will need to be shrunk.


How to Shrink Your Leather Shoes

man wiping boots

If your leather shoes are too big, you’re not alone. There are a number of reasons why leather shoes can get stretched out. Shrinking leather shoes sounds like a pretty odd thing to want to do, but if you wear leather shoes often enough, they’re bound to get stretched out.

Whether your shoes are too wide or too long, there are ways to shrink leather shoes that will make them fit better and look more attractive. Before I go on with ways to do that, be rest assured that these tips can harm your shoes if not followed properly.

Identify the area to shrink

Thinking about getting your leather shoes shrunk? The first thing you’d need to know is the area on the shoe that needs shrinking.

To make informed decisions on the areas that need shrinking, it’s important to try the shoes out. Do the shoes slip off as you walk? Does the toe window require shrinking? Move around with the shoe to determine the areas you need to work on.

Knowing the areas you have to work on help you shift your focus on those areas rather than altering the entire shape of the shoe.


Shrinking your shoes using water

You can use water to make your shoes smaller without spending any extra money. Before you begin, you need to be cautious as water damages leather easily.

  1. Place some clean water in a bowl.
  2. Dip your fingers in the bowl of water and apply to the surface that needs shrinking. Keep on applying water until the area feels damp.
  3. Once you are done, place the shoes under direct sunlight so that they can dry out. Alternatively, you can also use a blow dryer to gentle dry the damp area. Keep the dryer a few centimeters away from the shoes to avoid overheating of the leather.
  4. Keep applying water and heat until the area shrinks to its original size.
  5. If the shoes appear too stiff or cracked, you can use a leather conditioner on them once they’re all dried out.

How to Shrink Leather Shoes with Vinegar?

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar is acidic in nature. It is a liquid made from the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Vinegar might not be the most appealing of ingredients – but it’s still a handy item to have around the house.

From tenderizing meat and softening skin to balancing the pH of your hair and cleaning your kitchen, vinegar can be used for almost anything. There are many different types of vinegar, including wine vinegar, flavored vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and others.

How to shrink your leather shoes with Vinegar.

How to shrink your leather shoes with vinegar is a common question for a leather expert. Vinegar has the ability to shrink leather so that it fits comfortably on your feet.

Vinegar is a natural leather cleaner, and if you want to shrink your leather shoes, the easiest and best way is to use vinegar. This method is perfect if you intend to shrink your entire shoes.

  1. Soak a piece of cloth into a bowl of white vinegar solution.
  2. Without squeezing, slide the soaked microfiber cloth into your shoes and allow them there for an hour or two.
  3. After a set time, remove the cloth from the shoes and place the shoes in sunlight so they can dry completely.
  4. If you witness cracks as the shoes dries, you may apply a leather conditioner on the cracked spots.
  5. If you don’t get the required results using vinegar, you can use water to shrink the shoes further.

Other Leather Shoe Fitting Tips

Use an elastic band.

If you intend to shrink the shoe area around the heel, sewing an elastic band in that area is your best bet. This tip is perfect for shoes that have a thin leather material. A thin material will ease the sewing process.

  1. Cut out a small piece of elastic band used generally for clothing. You can find these bands online or in a store nearby.
  2. Stretch the elastic band across the back heel of the shoes until it holds firmly. Use a safety pin to hold it in place.
  3. Using a needle, gently sew the band onto the back heel of the shoe. Then tie off the loose end of the thread once you are done.
  4. Once you’re done sewing, put on the shoes to check if it fits you.

Use Tissue Paper

If your shoes are slipping because the toe area is wide, you can use this quick technique. Stuff in some tissue paper in the toe area. Once that is done, try the shoes out again. Repeat this until you experience a comfortable fit.

Use custom insoles

The best way to deal with the extra gap between your sole and your shoe is by using thick custom insoles. Add insoles into your shoes before wearing them. You can buy some good insoles online or in a store near you.

Using a Shoe-Repair Specialist.

The safest way to shrink your expensive leather shoes is by using a cobbler. Cobblers are specialists with experience in leather-related works. Search for a qualified Cobbler near you and compare their costs before settling with one.


Ways To Stretch your shoes for a more comfortable fit.

What if your shoes need stretching instead? Stretching your leather shoes is an easy way to help them fit more comfortably. Like any fabric, leather can stretch and wear out over time. If your leather boots are feeling too tight, there are easy ways to stretch them.

What causes tight shoes?

Shoes should be a snug fit. If they are too loose, they will be sloppier looking and your feet will move around inside them.

Wearing the wrong-size shoes can lead to serious foot problems, including bunions, heel spurs, and hammer toes. This happens because your shoes do not fit you correctly. Here are a few causes of tight shoes.

Problems with the toe box

If your shoe is too tight, the first principal cause could be the toe box. The problem with the toe area isn’t the toe box itself, but the fact that it’s too small.

A small toe box forces your foot into an unnatural alignment. This can result in pressure points on the side of the foot. Such pressure can cause blisters, as well as give you a cramp in the arch of your foot.

Problems with the heel box

The heel box of the shoe is the part of the shoe that is made to fit the heel of your foot. Where your heel sits in the shoe, there will be a cut out of leather in the shape of your heel. This is generally the most flexible part of the shoe because it can be formed to fit almost any heel.

However, a tight heel box can be uncomfortable, and can cause blisters and even change the way your foot moves when you walk. To avoid such problems, make sure your shoe should fit the way your foot rests in them, and not the other way around.

Shape of shoe

When purchasing a pair of leather shoes, it’s important to make sure you get the right size. This may seem like a no-brainier, but in reality, it’s easier said than done.

Our toes aren’t all the same length, and even if you have a pair of shoes that fit, you may notice that they feel tighter or looser at different times, depending on how swollen your feet happen to be. These factors add to the confusion, and make sizing a bit more complex than it may initially seem.

A lot of people wear shoes that are too narrow for them, and this can often cause foot pain. If your feet are larger than average, you’re likely to find the shoes you buy are too narrow. If you can’t stand wearing tight shoes, you should buy a bigger size. This is very important to your comfort while wearing shoes.

What are the different ways to stretch leather shoes for a more comfortable fit?

Stretching your leather shoes for a perfect fit

Walk around in your shoes to stretch the leather

You can stretch the leather by walking in your shoes. It’s best to start out a few minutes at a time, then build up to longer periods, since this might be uncomfortable at first. Not all leather is created equal. The thicker the leather, the harder it is to stretch.

Use thick socks and a blow dryer

This method will give your shoes an extra stretch so that they conform to your feet. Try this if the first method doesn’t work.

  1. Put on any thick pair of socks you have available. Cotton socks are best for this process.
  2. Wear your shoes with the thick socks on. Don’t bother if the shoes feel uncomfortable on your feet.
  3. Use a blow dryer to apply medium heat on spots that feel tight. Try to use a hair dryer for 20 to 30 seconds at a time.
  4. Keep the blow dryer moving so you don’t burn the leather by drying it out.

The shoes will expand to conform to your feet. After you’ve used this method, it’s a good idea to apply a leather conditioner or moisturizers to the shoes.

Use adjustable shoe tree

Using shoe stretchers is the easiest way to stretch your canvas shoes. A basic shoe stretcher can be made from wood or plastic.

StyledRight Unisex 2-Way Shoe Stretcher For Men & Women - Shoe Widener Stretch Length & Wide Feet

To use a shoe stretcher, insert it into the shoe and twist the handle. Leave the stretcher in the shoe for 24 hours.

You can also buy a two-way stretcher. This two-way shoe stretcher can expand both the width and length of the shoes. Alternatively, you can use pressure pods to apply pressure on specific areas of the shoes.

Use shoe stretch spray and liquids

You can use shoe stretching sprays and liquids to stretch leather, fabric, and even vinyl. After spraying those areas that feel tight with these liquids, walk in your shoes so that they conform to your feet.

Kiwi SELECT Universal Shoe Stretch (1) 7oz.

You can use these products together with shoe stretchers to give your shoes a custom stretch.

Use Cobblers near you

For those who prefer to hire someone to do the stretching for them, it’s best to hire a shoe repair professional. A cobbler can repair and refresh your shoes to make them last longer. They also offer stretching services. You can easily find a professional shoe repair shop locally.


How to avoid narrow shoes?

The last thing you want to happen is to buy a pair of canvas shoes that are either too tight or too loose. So, how can you avoid making these mistakes? Below are steps to measure your feet for your next shoe.

How to measure your feet for shoes

The first step to finding a pair of shoes that fit well is determining your foot’s length, width, and the way the foot is shaped.

This guides you toward a pair of shoes that will fit your feet and provide you with maximum comfort. Here are the steps to measuring your feet for shoes.

  1. The proper way to measure your feet is by standing on a piece of paper and drawing around the outline of your feet. If you do not have paper, you can use anything from a box to a sheet of wrapping paper.
  2. You want to make sure to trace around both feet.
  3. Once you have traced around your feet, you can measure your shoe size.
  4. Using a ruler, measure the distance between the back of your heel and the longest toe.
  5. The measurement that you get from your feet should be the same as your shoe size.


Frequently Asked Questions

Should leather shoes be tight at first

Some people say that leather boots are made to fit the foot, not the other way around. A perfect fitting shoe should have a comfortable snug from the start. Even though leather will stretch and mold over time, it should still be a good fit from the start.

The importance of starting off with a comfortable shoe cannot be overstressed. If your dress shoes are loose, then your foot may shift inside the shoe, which can cause blisters and other irritating foot problems.

What is the best shoe stretcher

Shoe stretchers are a great way to keep your favorite pair of leather shoes looking the way you want them to. Whether you want to stretch a pair of dress shoes to make them more comfortable or you want to make a pair of high heels easier to walk in, boot stretchers can do the job.

Here are two best stretchers we recommend. XYH Shoe Stretcher and Styled Right Uni-sex two-way stretcher.

Does wet newspaper stretch leather shoes

You can use a damp newspaper to stretch your shoes. To use the technique, follow the steps below.

  1. Put a few sheets of damp newspaper in the toe box of the shoe.
  2. Continue until the shoe is full. Make sure you stuff the newspaper in such a way to preserve the shape of the shoes.
  3. Allow the shoes for a couple of hours. The newspaper will expand and harden as it dries, stretching out the shoe.

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