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Author Topic: How do I stretch a pair of leather shoes?  (Read 23469 times)
Lady Toadflinger
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« on: April 04, 2013, 08:57:57 pm »

Recently, I picked up a pair of leather shoes for $1.25 (US) at the thrift store. They are the right length, but a bit narrow. Since they were so inexpensive, I don't mind experimenting with widening them a bit. I do have a vintage pair of wooden shoe stretchers, and various leather products, such as neats foot oil, mink oil, etc. I wonder if some one of you could suggest which product to use to facilitate stretching the shoes. I have used the stretchers without any oil and they seem a little wider, but I don't know if that will last once the stretcher is removed. I don't want to be wearing them and have them slowly tighten up on my feet! Ow!!! Any advice?
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frances
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013, 09:41:18 pm »

Leather shoes, if they have leather linings should stretch to fit your feet ... in time.
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Rockula
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2013, 09:44:35 pm »

Cobblers.


I always take them to the cobblers and have them stretched professionally.


 Wink
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Argus Fairbrass
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013, 02:27:34 am »

Well if you're determined to DIY and you have mink oil (isn't that the expensive one?) I seem to recall a horsey person was recommending that for softening and stretching, and also this slightly more budget alternative.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B002HVGAGS/ref=asc_df_B002HVGAGS12422851?smid=A3VZ7ZF5ZTJMTL&tag=hydra0b-21&linkCode=asn&creative=22218&creativeASIN=B002HVGAGS&hvpos=1o3&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1558229207835984783&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=

But yes any cobbler worth their salt should do a a fine job.
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 02:46:35 am »

Simply pop a bag of water (yes a bag of water) into each shoe and leave them overnight in the deep freeze - job's a goodun!
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Wilhelm Smydle
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 02:49:13 am »

A lot depends on the type of leather, sometime just wearing them through the dewy grass will be enought.

A good cobbler or leather repair shop has a better knowledge base and may have other chemicals that may not be as easily found.

Lexol leather conditioner, mink oil, or neets foot oil may help soften the leather a bit.
It's fort of a rub on and buff off kind of process.

Mink is traditionally used to water seal leather boots and will darken the surface a bit.
It should also be noted these oils/conditioners are not suitable for suede leather.
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Lady Toadflinger
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2013, 03:17:11 pm »

I do have mink oil, left over from when I was employed and could afford such things. I am on a tight budget, and the shoes only cost $1.25, so I don't want to pay a cobbler. I think I'll try the mink oil.
Thanks for all of the responses. I'll post my results.
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IGetPwnedOften
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2013, 06:32:46 pm »

If you have Neatsfoot oil, one tip from my army days that might help was one we used to soften up new boots.

Basically you fill the shoe with the oil, and leave it overnight. In the morning pour out the excess oil, leave the shoes hanging up to drain as much as possible for as long as possible, and if all goes well they'll end up like butter.

You may well end up with oily socks for a while though...
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oldskoolpunk
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2013, 06:50:37 pm »


Shoe Stretch Spray (US$4.50)

Many shoe-repair places stock something similar.

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Captain
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 07:36:57 pm »


Shoe Stretch Spray (US$4.50)

Many shoe-repair places stock something similar.




I have been trying to fir cadets in second hand combat boots for years and I use a different version of the same thing with great success:



90%+ alcohol is supposed to work too.  I usually spray them with Shoe Stretch then wear them with thick socks until they stretch to comfortable but you could probably find shoes trees to help stretch them too:

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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 10:03:07 pm »

Mink oil makes leather water tight and neatsfoot oil leaves leather greasy. Usually when molding leather into different forms, water is used. Soak the leather, stretch it to the shape you want, then leave it on a form to dry.

This is dependent on the type of leather mind you. I'm assuming that they are made from a vegetable tanned leather since many shoes are, but many shoes are also made from a chrome tanned leather. If these are made from chrome tanned, I don't know how well this method will work.

To soak the leather, either submerge in water of simple hold under the sink. thin stuff and wrap then in towels. (paper towels, kitchen towel, doesn't really mater that much. soak the towels. place in a sealable plastic bag and place in fridge until the next day.

 reforming them, you'll need a form to do this. if you have a shoe tree, great, if not, you'll need to make something. a heavy rasp and a chunk of scrap 2x4 should work. after you stretch wet leather, it will want to return to it's former size as it dries. if it dies stretched out it will retain it's stretched size. if you have to make a form, I'm going to recommend that you make it out of a few pieces. the leather may tighten up around the form, and if it's once solid piece it may be very difficult to remove.

also just wearing then when they are wet and allowing them to dry as you wear them will also stretch and form them to your feet, but that can lead to some uncomfortable days. To break in new work boots, I used to get them wet and spend all day on my feet moving around. Wear good soaks that will cushion well if you try that method.  be prepaired to recondition them afterwards.
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IGetPwnedOften
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 11:05:59 pm »

Usually when molding leather into different forms, water is used. Soak the leather, stretch it to the shape you want, then leave it on a form to dry.

I didn't know that - I've been thinking about trying my hand at some leatherwork soon and that's a useful tip, thanks  Grin
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jcbanner
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« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2013, 03:37:41 am »

Usually when molding leather into different forms, water is used. Soak the leather, stretch it to the shape you want, then leave it on a form to dry.

I didn't know that - I've been thinking about trying my hand at some leatherwork soon and that's a useful tip, thanks  Grin

It's a simplification of the process, but it will suffice for something like stretching out shoes.   When leather is saturated, the collagen fibers loosen up and become pliable. As it dries out again they stiffen back up. 
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caramelwhistle
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« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2013, 11:04:30 pm »

I didn't know that - I've been thinking about trying my hand at some leatherwork soon and that's a useful tip, thanks  Grin

Ever since I watched 'Into the wild' (2007 I think) and saw 'Supertramp' carving his leather belt I've wanted to do that.  He carved the story of his journey from the buckle to tip.

However I don't have the surplus belts around my home to experiment with and don't go shopping all that often. :/
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2013, 08:29:35 am »

Tanned but other wise un treated leather like un-dyed saddle leather is very workable when wet and then will dry in shape and if heat is added it will take a more permanent shape, that is how shaped holsters are made

But leather that has been dyed and treated as with shoes will stretch a bit less and you cant heat shape it. Something like a pair of dress shoes you might get as much as 1/4 an inch semi permanent, and you can always re stretch again.

The shoe stretch liquid they sell is basically just alcohol and water so you can make your own, at a shop I worked at we just made our own from the 90% alcohol and water half and half. 

They make shoe stretcher devices for various parts of the shoes, the vamp (the front top), the side, the heel, the shaft of a boot.  Some of the high end stretchers have holes all over them them for snapping in bumps like Mr Potato parts to give extra stretch to certain places, I see an image below of what is probably a higher end home stretcher.

For most cases the shoe stretcher you can find for home use will do your home use, you can always duct tape lumps for special areas or otherwise add extra width.  You can get a bit of stretch in the shaft of a boot with soda bottles filed with water.

Wet the shoe or boot until it is damp then insert the stretcher or stretching object, crank or shove the stretcher about 1/3 of your intended amount then come back every few hours and wet it some more and crank or shove it some more

You can leave the stretcher in for days or when ever you are not wearing the shoes. wearing them while wet will work to stretch and work the leather but then put them on a stretcher to dry over night     
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Lady Toadflinger
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« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2013, 02:47:12 pm »

I filled the shoes with water and left them for a few days. (They held the water quite well.) Then I put some vintage shoe stretchers in them for a few more days until they were dry. They stretched enough for me to wear for a short  while, but not enough for real comfort. My daughter's feet are  a bit  narrower than mine, so she can wear them comfortably. They're now hers! I feel the experiment was a success. Thanks to everyone for the advice.
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