Sometimes leather shoes fit like a glove in the store, but once they are purchased and worn for any length of time they begin to hurt the feet. In many cases the shoes are too tight for comfort, and they end up causing painful blisters. The material can be stiff, tight, and the shoes can create a painful problem, but fortunately leather is moldable, and it can be stretched to fit perfectly. Instead of casting aside a new pair of leather shoes that feel too tight, consider the following ways to stretch the material. My dad works with leather, and he uses the following methods to stretch the leather shoes he makes by hand. Once the material is custom stretched to fit the feet, chances are they will become the most comfortable pair of shoes you own.
When in doubt, apply the following treatments in an inconspicuous area before trying on visible areas of leather shoes. Also, before using any method to stretch leather shoes, apply a high-quality leather moisturizer to the exterior surfaces. This will help prevent the material from splitting and cracking during the stretching process. Follow product label instructions for best results.
Ice Method to Stretch Leather Footwear
One tried and true way to stretch leather shoes is the ice method. Fill a sturdy plastic bag three-fourths of the way full with water, and seal the top securely to avoid leaks. Place the bag of water into the shoe you want to stretch, and make sure the bag takes up excess space in the area where the shoe is too tight. Place the shoe in the freezer, and allow the water to freeze completely and stretch the material before removal. As the water freezes it will naturally expand and stretch the leather. Although this method does not result in a custom fit, it will stretch the material if the bag expands the interior of the shoe in the right locations.
Alcohol Method to Stretch Leather Footwear
This method to stretch leather shoes results in a custom fit. Mix one part isopropyl rubbing alcohol with three parts water, and pour it into an adjustable spray bottle. Lightly spray the shoes in the areas where they are too tight, and pay careful attention to seams. Alternately the entire exterior surface of the shoes can be sprayed if you cannot pinpoint the tight locations.
Wear the footwear around the house until the alcohol and water mixture dries completely, or invest in a shoe stretching tool. This homemade solution will allow the leather to stretch in all of the right places, and when stretched correctly you will end up with a custom fit that will feel snug but exceptionally comfortable.