How to Shrink Leather Shoes

Опубликовал Admin
19-04-2021, 02:40
If your leather shoes have stretched out too much from use, or if your new leather shoes are too big, you may consider shrinking them. The process is not difficult, but be aware that the shoe could be damaged if treated improperly, and that shrinking a shoe more than half a size may be hard to achieve.

Shrinking your Shoes with Water

  1. Be cautious when using this method. Water has the potential to damage leather, and if you use too much your shoe may become stiff, stained, or cracked. Optionally, you may apply a leather guard or leather protector solution to the surface you plan on treating, but this may make the shoe more resistant to water treatment.
    • If you do apply leather guard to your shoe, allow it to dry completely before you continue.
  2. Get the sides or top of the shoe damp. Focus on the portion of the shoe that is too large, such as the sides or toe. Use a small spray bottle full of water, or dip your fingers in water and rub the area you want to shrink. While this area should end up quite damp, avoid getting any water elsewhere, especially on the soles or the base of the shoe
  3. Dry your shoes in sunlight if possible. While sunlight will likely take longer than other methods of drying, this slower process reduces the chance of heat damage to your shoe. If you are shrinking your shoes on a sunny day, place them outside or next to a sunny windowsill and check back after a few hours to see if they are dry.
  4. Dry your shoes with a blow dryer if necessary. If the current sunlight levels and temperatures are inadequate for drying shoes, use a blow dryer instead. Use the lowest temperature setting and hold your blow dryer at least six inches (15 cm) from the shoe to avoid damaging or burning the shoe.
  5. Use other heat sources as a last resort. The tumbling action of a dryer may damage your shoes, although some dryers include a stable drying rack for this type of situation. Placing your shoes in front of a fireplace or oven may cause damage to the portions that are not wet. If this is the only method available, keep the shoes at a distance that feels warm to your hand, not hot.
  6. Apply additional water and heat if necessary. The adjustments you make with this method may be small, depending on the thickness and type of your leather. If the shoes are still too large, try applying water a second or third time, then heating the same way to shrink your shoes further.
    • The elastic band method may also be used in conjunction with this one.
  7. Treat your shoes with leather conditioner once dry. The water and heat treatment may have made your shoes stiff or cracked. Leather conditioner should help reverse this and prevent further damage. Follow the instructions on the packaging for the most effective results. If there are no instructions, rub into the shoe with a clean cloth, then let dry without further heat treatment.
    • Some leather conditioners are made for certain types of leather. If you do not know which type of leather your shoe was made from, ask a shoe store employee to identify the material or try to find a general purpose leather conditioner.

Sewing an Elastic Band to the Heel

  1. Use this method for thin shoes that slip off. This method works best on thin leather shoes, since thick material will be difficult to sew. This method will make your shoe more narrow and harder to slip off, but if your shoe is much too long for you, use the water method.
    • If your shoes are much too large, try using both methods for more pronounced results. Try the water method first so you have a better idea of how tightly you should sew the band.
  2. Cut a piece of elastic intended for clothing. These elastic bands may be found at craft and sewing shops or online. You only need a piece a couple inches (a few centimeters) long. If you prefer, cut off a larger piece for easier manipulation, then cut off the excess once the band is sewed on.
  3. Fix the band to the heel of the shoe. Stretch the elastic band across the inside heel of the shoe. Stretch until it extends tightly across the back of the heel, then use safety pins or hairpins to fix it to each side. You may find it easier to pin the band to one side of the heel, then stretch the other side of the band across the heel and pin it again.
    • Make sure the band can be pushed back against the heel so you are able to sew it. If the band is stretched too tight and there is a gap between the heel and the band that cannot be pushed closed with a light touch, unpin it and fasten it slightly farther back to make it a little looser.
  4. Sew the band onto the shoe. Use a needle and thread to sew the band onto the shoe, then tie off the thread once you're done. If you would like more detailed sewing instructions, read the article How to Sew. Remove the pins once the band is fastened.
    • A curved needle may be easier to use.
  5. Try on the shoes. The band should pull the shoe to a narrower position around your heel, preventing the shoe from slipping off. If the shoe is still too long or extends too high above your foot, consider stuffing the toe with tissue paper or inserting a thicker insole.

Trying out Alternate Solutions

  1. Stuff the toe with tissue paper. If the shoe is too big in the toe, a small bundle of tissue paper may prevent the shoe from slipping. Cloth or newspaper may work as well, but you may wish to walk around at home for an hour to see if it is comfortable before leaving the house.
  2. Add a thicker insole. If there is a gap between the top of your foot and the shoe, you would probably benefit from a thicker insole. Insoles can be purchased at shoe stores and some drug stores, or removed from another shoe. They are typically made from rubber or foam. Cut them to fit your shoe if they are too large, using an ordinary pair of scissors.
    • Remove the existing insole in your shoe first if one is present. This is a thin piece of material which can be lifted out from the inside heel. If the bottom of the shoe seems attached, leave it inside the shoe.
  3. Find a cobbler in a location near you. Cobblers are shoe-repair specialists, and may have experience shrinking leather shoes. Consider requesting estimated costs for this service from several cobblers, since some may be more expensive than others.
  4. Ask your local dry cleaners if you cannot find a cobbler. Dry cleaners are accustomed to working with different types of material, including leather, and may know how to shrink your shoes. However, the typical dry cleaning process is intended to avoid shrinking. A cobbler will likely have more expertise.


Things You'll Need

Water method:
  • Leather guard
  • Leather conditioner
  • Clean water
  • Sunlight or blow dryer
Elastic band method:
  • Elastic band
  • Needle (curved needle may be easier)
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