The leather is the most preferred material for making boots due to their high durability, strength and resistance to wear and tear.
On the other hand, leather is also very susceptible to shrinking and expanding due to its intrinsic elastic and plastic properties.
Due to this fact, leather boots can easily fluctuate in size.
Leather boots, therefore, may require shrinking every now and then and under different circumstances. Some methods to do the same are discussed below.
Why Shrink Boots?
Shrinking of boots is very useful when boots of a wrong size are bought. Also, when leather boots are used very often, they tend to expand and no longer fit.
Therefore, the shrinking of these boots has to be done.
Leather boots are extremely flexible and can be molded easily due to the inherent properties of leather. Leather can easily be molded into any shape due to their great elastic and plastic properties.
This characteristic is both a blessing and a problem.
When leather boots are used very frequently or for a long time, they tend to expand, and they no longer will fit.
Moreover, when leather boots of bigger size are bought, it is a waste of investment.
Hence, it is useful to know basic methods that will help in shrinking leather boots.
Methods to Shrink Boots
Some methods to shrink boots are by soaking boots in water, spraying the boots with water and then drying it, stuffing the boots with scrap paper, attaching thicker insoles or by sewing an elastic band onto the boot’s heel lining.
These methods are simple, effective and the boots can be shrunk without requiring professional help.
1. Soaking boots in water
The materials required for this method are a large water basin or tub or bucket filled with water, and socks.
The leather boots must be soaked in water for around an hour. Care must be taken to see to that the boots are submerged completely under water.
Then, a pair of socks can be worn and then soaked in water for five minutes, until the socks completely absorb the water.
After the boots have been soaked until being completely saturated, they can be taken out of the water. As soon as they are taken out of the water, they will start shrinking immediately.
To avoid this, they must be worn over the damp socks as soon as they are taken out of the water.
The user can wear the damp socks and wet boots and then go on with his/her daily activities. The boots then shrink to the required size, while taking the shape and contours of the user’s foot.
The damp socks help in the boots to shrink the required foot size. The damp socks will also protect the wearer’s feet from the tightening leather, thus making wearing wet boots decidedly less uncomfortable.
This method works best with genuine leather boots. In the case of the suede boots, the insides of the boot can be wet and then the boots can be left to dry.
2. Water and Heat Method
The materials required for this method are lukewarm to warm water, a spray bottle, a source of heat, a hair dryer and a leather conditioner.
A spray bottle can be filled with lukewarm or warm water. Then, water can be sprayed onto the boots from a safe distance of 5 inches.
The boot must not be made completely soggy. Spray at only those loose, hanging areas around the heel, toe cap and upper.
Care must be taken to not spray onto the sole. In most boots, the sole is glued to the upper. When water is sprayed onto the sole, the glue may get diluted and the sole may peel off.
When a spray bottle is not available, water can be dabbed onto the boot using fingers.
After this, the boots must be left to dry completely either in the sunlight or using a blower. The boots can be placed in the sunlight or next to a fireplace until they are bone dry. Otherwise, a hair dryer with variable heat and speed settings can be used for the same.
The dryer can be set to the lowest speed and highest heat output.
Hold it at a distance of 6 inches and then passed over the boots. A simple tip is to dry the loose parts of the boot first to ensure that they shrink effectively.
Also, the heat must be applied evenly to all the areas of the boot. This can be done by rotating the boot as it is being subject to the hair dryer.
The leather must not be exposed to too much heat. Otherwise, they may crack and blister.
The boots can be tried on. If they are still loose, repeat the entire process from the beginning.
Lastly, leather conditioner can be applied onto the boots. It can be rubbed onto the boots using a clean cloth and then let the boots dry naturally, without the application of any heat.
The conditioner ensures that the boots do not crack and do not stiffen after being exposed to the heat. They also clean the leather and strengthen it.
3. Stuffing boots
Okay, this is not exatly shrinking but more like decreasing the internal dimensions of the shoe.
The materials required for this method are any scrap pieces of paper, foam, cloth and thick socks.
When boots are long and extend beyond the wearer’s toes, the gaps can be filled by stuffing tissue paper, newspaper, cloth foam or any other scrap paper.
Push as many stuffing required into the boot to prevent it from slipping off when it is worn.
Otherwise, wearing one to two pairs of thick socks can fill the gap and ensure the boots to have a tight fit over the foot.
Here is a quick video on the same –
Another method which is not exactly shrinking of the boot but can provide a quick solution anyway.
Thick insoles and glue are required for this method.
The insole of the shoe is the first layer of the sole. It is directly beneath the foot and is attached to the upper of the shoe. The insole is contoured and structured to cradle the foot.
When there is a gap between the boot’s upper and the top of the user’s foot, a thicker insole can be added to bridge that gap.
If the insole is detachable, as in most of the cases, it can be replaced with another thicker insole.
If the insole of the boot is not removable (in some cases, it may be glued to the shoe’s upper and outsole) another insole can be added on top of it.
Sewing involves materials like elastic bands, scissors, needle, and thread and safety pins.
This method works by stitching a piece of an elastic band into the inner side of the heel, onto the heel’s lining.
Firstly, a piece of the elastic band of the required thickness must be cut.
It must be nailed onto the heel lining at the right spot using safety pins. One end of the band can be pinned, after which it can be stretched around the lining and pinned on the other side.
Then, with the pins holding the band in place, the band can be sewn using the needle and thread. A curved needle is preferred for use.
After it has been sewn, remove the safety pins.
This method for thin leather boots as sewing onto the thin leather is easier than thick leather.
In the end..
There are several methods to shrink or make sure boots fit your size. While it is best to have the right size of boots from the start, these methods also help.
If you have tried any of these or even some other method, share with us how it worked!