03 January 2008

Shoe Stretching


Come on, admit it. All of us are guilty of falling in love with a pair of shoes that are just a wee bit (or maybe a lot!) too small for us. Maybe it was an Ebay purchase that didn't quite work out or a thrifted pair that you couldn't pass up for only $2. Whatever the reason, we all know wearing shoes that are too small is bad for our feet. As I was purging my closet, getting ready for the big move, I ran across a pair of beloved boots, an Ebay purchase from a year or so ago. I'd almost forgotten why they had been banished into shoe purgatory. I set them aside to wear to work the next day. Needless to say, about halfway through the next day I began to remember why the boots had been banished. The right one feels about a half size smaller than the left one, pinching my toes and being all around annoying. I checked to make sure the boots are actually a matching pair and they are. And the last time I checked my feet were a matching pair as well. I am hoping to come up with a way to stretch the one boot so I don't have to part with yet another pair of too small shoes.


I know I could take them to a shoe repair shop and have them professionally stretched but I just fancy myself a little more of a DIY kind of girl. Besides, paying to have the shoes stretched kind of defeats getting them for such a good bargain. A little internet research turned up these options:

  1. "To soften leather cut a potato up and stuff it into the area that you want stretched or softened. It works, don't ask me how but it does. Leave the potato overnight and see if they're better!" How can I put this lightly. Um, NO! No potatoes in the shoes, please. Next!
  2. "Put on a heavy pair of socks, spray the inside of the shoe with 50-50 water and rubbing alcohol solution, and wear the shoes for 20 minutes- almost always works." There were a lot of these "put on wet socks" solutions out there. Sounds more like a recipe for blisters if you ask me.
  3. "Place a plastic bag in the shoe and fill the bag with water. Place the shoe in the freezer. When the ice expands the shoe will stretch as well." This sounds the most promising so far. I can see how, technically, it could work. I'm afraid that freezing might not be good for the vintage leather.
  4. "Stuff your shoe full of damp newspaper as full as you can possibly do it and leave it overnight." This sounds like a possible solution. Much better than a wet sock.
  5. "Put the shoe on with a pair of thick socks. Heat the leather for about one minute with a hair dryer to soften the leather. Walk around in the shoes until they are completely cooled off." Now this sounds more like my speed. Toasty toes and stretched shoes at the same time? Perfect.

I'll be putting (some) of these to the test and I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. Anybody out there have any other suggestions? And please, step away from the vegetables.

17 comments:

Sarah said...

do tell us the best ones once you're done! I bought two pairs shoes while I was thrifting yesterday and both were a wee bit too small.

Imelda said...

I also had a pair of shoes that were a little bit too small, but I just kept wearing them and they fitted great after a few weeks.
but last time I tried a pair the was too small, I left them in store because I wouldn't go trough my painfull stretching solution again.
So please tell us the best solution.

Greetz,
Imelda

The Clothes Horse said...

I need to know what will work! I don't want to soak my shoes or put them in the freezer, but some do get a wee bit tight with multiple layers of socks.

- jesse said...

I got a shoe stretcher - akin to the one in the photo. I figured I'd use it often enough as I have wiiiide feet!

Foto's from space said...

a spray can of Walk Away, by Marla, always helps with my gorgeous, thrifted, shoes..
Good luck

Heather said...

Oooh, I'm going to have to try some of these... then I can finally buy some of those $2 vintage Ferragamos which always seem to be a size to small...

In Yr Fshn said...

OMG the potato. Ugh. I can't even fathom walking around smelling like potatoes. What an icky smell.

Anonymous said...

I just tried the blowdryer method- works like a charm! Now I can wear my vintage Ferragamos without wincing all night. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

i did the hairdryer one too and it worked! no wetness or concoctions necessary!

my shoes are handmade so they are extra sensitive made out of leather and printed silk so i didnt want to put any wet newspapers or rubbing alcohol on them, that sounds like it would damage more than it would help!

NickInZim said...

I bought a pair of custom made leather boots with a nice elastic part over where the ankles touch the edge. I thought, excellent no stretching necessary, it'll just close back over my foot once I've put them on. Oops! unfortunately they're quite stiff leather so I can see 1-2 weeks of pain if I break them in by wearing them.

After some research I found some answers as well as yours, I got the common note that if you use heat, it will likely destroy the glue bonding the shoe, so it seems to be up to you to risk the hair-dryer method. More commonly people suggest the "Easily Available" shoe stretching solution. I live in Zimbabwe and unfortunately no-body seems to sell the stuff. I guess I'll just have to pay-up and get the guys to stretch them.

fiona said...

I work in a shoe shop and the definite best and natural way to stretch shoes is to wear them regardless until they break through.
No one seems to understand that shoes are not made for your exact foot size and shape so you will need to break into them.

However, I've found a leather stretching spray does the trick.
It's a foam that you spray on the leather lining of a shoe or boot then put it on immediately after so the foam can absorb into the leather and stretch to the contour of the foot. It may feel a little wet but the foam absorbs and dries almost immediately. The spray can be used numerous times and should be available from most shoe shops.
Tana do a good one for $10.95.

Kathy C. said...

Hi...Tried the thick socks and blow dryer on a $100 pair of shoes I stole off of ebay for $20. Have to say I was so surprised. It worked like a charm! Thanks for the tip. KathyC.

Ashley said...

oh my gosh the hair dryer totally worked!!!! thank you :)

Solange said...

My tailor said the wet socks thing really works, but DON'T use it on leather.

iheartgardening said...

thanks for this post. it was easy to find and exactly what i was looking for. i just bought a pair of clarks from vv and even tho they're my size, somehow the top leather part is soooooo narrow compared to the usual dansko type shoe. i'm going to try the hair dryer thing, thanks!!!!

Joss said...

omg!!! My boyfriend bought me a pair of shoes and they were tOo tight and cut my feet to shreds. I felt so bad as he had surprised me with them
Did this and now they totally fit - even slightly too big!

THANK YOUUUUU!!!

Moriah Banks said...

I did the dryer method and it actually worked. I was shocked! Lol, thanks so much!!