How to Stretch the Calves on Leather Boots

By Kathryn Walsh

Hey, nothing's perfect. So when a pair of gorgeous boots appears in front of you, perfect except for the slightly-too-tight calves, snap them up and fix them later. It may be possible to stretch the calves at home using one of a few simple methods. That takes a little effort, but it's worth making. Once the leather is coaxed into the right shape for your calves, it should stay that way.

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How to Stretch the Calves on Leather Boots

Option One: Use a Stretch Spray

Stretch spray is made especially for this purpose. Different versions are available on the market, but these sprays are typically alcohol-based solutions that soften shoe material and allow it to stretch.

Following package directions, spritz the insides of the boots. (Don't spray it on the outside of the boots; it may cause discoloration.) While the leather is soft and pliable, fill the boots with something that will help force the calves to stretch. Several tightly-rolled magazines, bundles of rags or rolled towels all work. Let the boots sit overnight and remove the stuffing in the morning.

If the calves are still tight, consider a more extreme option. Spray the leather with the stretch spray again and fill plastic food storage bags with water. Squeeze most of the air out of the bags (but not all) and double bag them, to prevent leaks. Fill the boots with water bags and put them in the freezer for several hours. As the water expands, it should stretch the leather. After taking the boots from the freezer, let the water thaw before removing the bags.

Option Two: Wear Them In

Prefer to keep all products away from that shiny new leather? Just wearing tight boots for a few hours may be enough to stretch out the calves. But when they're too tight, just getting the boots on can be the primary challenge. Use slippery plastic to help ease them on.

Buy boot slips, or make them at home by cutting holes in the bottom of a few plastic grocery bags. Pull on a few pairs of socks and slip the plastic over the foot, with the toes poking through the cut hole. The plastic should help the boot slide onto the foot. Once it's on, pull the plastic up and out. Keep the boots on for a few hours. With a little luck – and the help of the bulky socks – they should be a little looser by the end of the wearing.

Option Three: The Last Resort

If you've sprayed, frozen and worn your boots and the calves are still tight, it's time for professional help. Take them to a shoe repair shop to be stretched. An experienced shoe repairer may use wooden stretchers and very hot steam to open up the calves as much as possible without damaging them.