Canvas footwear balances lightweight durability with classic style, as the material lends itself to items ranging from sneakers to deck shoes. But you may find your new kicks a little stiff when you take them out of the box. Normal wear makes canvas more pliable, but you can accelerate the softening process with a few household items.
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Warm the shoes with a hair dryer. Set the dryer to hot and aim the nozzle into the shoe. Keep about an inch or so between the dryer and the canvas, just to be safe. Allow the hot air to warm up the shoes, but stop the heat before the shoes become too hot. This technique will speed up the break-in process by making the shoes more pliable before stretching them out with other techniques.
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Slip on a pair -- or or two -- of thick socks and wear the shoes around the house before taking them out on the town. Do this for a few days to increase the stiff material's flexibility.
Graduate to wearing the shoes out for walks, work or errands around town. Each time you don your shoes, they'll soften up a bit. Since water doesn't damage canvas, give your shoes a spin in a light rain or mist them with water from a spray bottle before you wear them out. A little moisture helps soften the fabric. Allow the shoes to air-dry thoroughly afterward.
Stuff two small glass jars into the areas you want expanded of each shoe. As an alternative, a clean mop head enclosed in a plastic bag can also be used. Leave the shoes overnight to stretch.
Check the shoe's care instructions before breaking them in and follow any instructions or warnings provided by the manufacturer. Some brands can only be hand-washed, while others may be tossed in the washing machine to ease stiffness.