Ways to Stretch Leather
Leather is popularly used for making shoes, clothing, and accessories, like hats, belts, and wallets. Apart from the style and good looks that leather offers, the material is also comfortable to wear, as it is soft and stretchable. As there are various methods to stretch leather on your own, you don't have to discard your new leather shoes or clothing, which are tight. However, professional help must be sought in case of expensive leather goods. If the manufacturer has provided any instructions, you must follow them, instead of trying these methods. In such cases, use products that are recommended by the manufacturer. Given below are some methods that are commonly used for stretching leather.
Using Commercial Products
Leather Stretcher Spray
This is one of those products that are widely used for stretching leather shoes. The spray has to be applied on the shoes so that the material gets soft and stretchy. According to its manufacturers, the product is good for stretching leather without affecting its softness and sheen.
Most of the brands are alcohol-based, so that the leather dries easily, that too sans watermarks. These sprays contain special conditioners to keep the leather soft. All you have to do is to spray it inside the shoes, and wear them (along with socks) for a few hours. Alternatively, you may use a shoe-stretcher, after applying the spray.
This is a device that is shaped like a foot, and is usually made of wood. It has to be inserted into the shoe, and adjusted with screws so that the shoe can be stretched to the desired limit. For fast and better results, you can use the device along with a shoe-stretching spray. The spray will make the leather soft and supple, so that it stretches easily.
It is always better to get a two-way shoe stretcher that can expand both the length and width of the shoes. Some of these devices are equipped with special mechanisms to stretch the problem spots only. You may also find some shoe stretchers, which are specially made for women's shoes. If your shoe dealer has this device, you can approach him to stretch your tight leather shoes. These sprays and devices will prove handy in case of leather sandals too.
This device is helpful for those who have boots that don't fit their calves. In order to stretch the leather in specific areas to a desired limit, the amount and duration of pressure must be accurate. So, take your ill-fitting boots to a qualified shoerepairer, who will do the task for you. In this case too, a leather stretcher spray will prove effective.
You can stretch leather on your own with some warm water and a tub. Fill the tub with warm water, and immerse the leather item in it. Make sure that the leather is fully immersed in water. Twist and knead the leather gently, till it gets soaked completely. Once the leather is fully soaked, leave it in water for another ten minutes. After that, wear it for an hour or two so that it stretches to fit the body perfectly. This method is perfect for bigger leather items, like skirt, jackets, etc.
This method is mainly used for stretching leather shoes. All you have to do is to insert a sturdy plastic bag inside the shoe, and fill it with water. Make sure that the water bag fills the entire space inside the shoe. Seal the bag so as to avoid spilling of water. Repeat the same with the other shoe. Put the shoes with water bags inside the freezer. As the water solidifies to form ice, it expands, thereby stretching the leather. Thaw the shoes before removing the plastic bags.
Combine equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol, and fill the solution in a spray bottle. Spray the solution inside the shoes, and wear them (along with thick socks) for at least 30 minutes. You may also apply rubbing alcohol on those parts that require stretching, before wearing the shoes. This method can be used for leather belts that do not have enough space to punch another hole for increasing its length.
Fill some damp newspaper in the shoes. Make sure that the newspaper is not soggy, and the shoes are stuffed till no space is left inside them. Avoid too much stuffing that may result in distortion of the shape of the shoes. Wear the shoes once they get dry.
Application of heat may prove effective for stretching leather. Find out a pair of the thickest socks from your collection. Wear them and put on the tight leather shoes. Use a hair dryer to apply heat (for a minute) on those parts that are tight. Move your feet inside the shoes, so as to stretch the leather. Remove them once they get cool.
In short, stretching leather is not a difficult task. It can be done at home easily, if you know the right methods. However, leather is expensive, and so, it is better to get it stretched with the help of a professional. If you want to do it on your own, do it carefully to avoid any damage to the leather. You may also try these methods on any old leather item beforehand. In most cases, the leather will stretch on its own if you wear the shoes regularly. This is applicable for shoes that can be worn without much pain and discomfort. The shoes will stretch and fit comfortably within a day or two. If you want to avoid all these troubles, choose shoes that fit you perfectly.