How to Stretch Out Leather

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Stretching out leather shoes can be done by industrial machines or by using homemade stretching solutions. Learn more about stretching out leather shoes with tips from a shoe repair expert in this free shoe care video.

Part of the Video Series: Shoe Care
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Mike Summers from Jim The Shoe Doctor in Eugene, Oregon. We're going to be talking about stretching shoes today. This is a stretching machine, this can pull the length of a shoe, or, and the width at the same time. And it can do a pretty heavy duty shoe, it can crank out a boot. And most of the time you're going to be limited to stretching about a half size in length and a full size in width. Beyond that it's going to really stress the shoe depending on materials, that's usually about the max you can get out of a shoe is a half size in length and a full size in width. We have a number of different types of stretchers. This stretcher stretches the instep of a shoe and what that stretcher looks like is this right here, and this actually lifts up and stretches that instep of the shoe, or the vamp of a shoe. And these are width stretchers. Now a stretcher like this, you would simply slide into a shoe and crank that up and once you've got some stress on the shoe, you would apply a stretching solution. And you can make a stretching solution yourself using basically about a three to one, three parts water, one part isoprophyl alcohol to make your own stretching solution. And you can even do that when you're wearing shoes if you just spray them down and wear them until they dry, and a lot of times that will help a shoe to fit much better. Once you've put a stretcher in a shoe and you've got some stress on it, you would actually go ahead and spray the shoe down, which my spray is not working real well, so you'd spray the shoe down and then you would continue to crank that up until you've achieved where you'd want to stop the stretch. And it's best to do in little, not to take too much of a stretch at once because you don't want to over-stress a shoe. When you apply that stretching solution, that will let the leather relax and give, and then when it dries it will hold that position. We also have calf stretchers for like these really tall boots. And this actually will stretch the calf of a boot, and this one you just twist, just like the other stretchers, twist up twist down, and it expands the entire calf of a boot. Now the stretchers will come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, so from real small ones to really big ones to fit most any kind of shoe. And that's pretty much how you would stretch a shoe.

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