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ilovepumps

How Much Can Shoes Stretch?

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I have several pairs of pumps in my collection that i simply didn't try on in the store beforehand, because i don't do that. I buy them usually from thrift stores and try them when i get them home. This particular thrift store i usually go to has some beautiful pumps, almost brand new, and they'll put a big price sticker on the shoes, but it will usually be the size, and then the half size. For example, the price sticker will say 7-7.5, or 5-5.5. So, some of the pumps i have are size 8, and i wear an 8.5, which means that sometimes i can't get my foot inside the toe box. I try to stretch them by hand, but it's slow going. Once in a while, i'll get my foot in there by some sort of miracle, where i'm afraid my foot is going to rip the shoe open. I lost a few pair by this unfortunate accident. One pair was a beautiful pair of Steve Madden pumps. Another was made by Charles David. I want to stretch them, and then wear them around the house a while, to get them REALLY loosened up. That's the plan, to get them REALLY loose and worn in a little, so my feet aren't aching an hour later. I assume i would need to invest in a good shoe stretcher, one that has the stretching mechanism for both width and length. Anyone know of a good one, by name? I also hear that you can take a zip-lock bag with some water in it, seal it up, and put it inside the toe box of the shoe, and put it in the freezer, and when the water turns to ice, it helps to stretch the shoes. Is it better to just buy a stretcher? I know that leather stretches easier than PVC. Would it be easier to stretch them by taking them to a shoe repair shop? Please advise.

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The wooden shoe stretchers are pretty much generic across the board.

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If it's any type of leather, it can stretch a surprising amount. Synthetic is another matter. Attempting to stretch synthetic materials might just pull the shoe apart.

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the quality & grade of the leather in an upper has the biggest effect on the amount they will stretch & many synthetics can stretch quite often more successfully than natural materials. from experience you can only really expect to get a 1/4 size rather than half or full sizes. The stretcher I use is a machine in itself with different shapes & sizes of lasts & attachments that can be added to specific areas (bunions & so on) & will produce far better results than the wood ones you can buy, I don't even stock these as once I explain the differences & the fact the cost of having them done by me is so, so much cheaper than a wooden stretcher most people then leave shoes with me. But all in all shoe stretching is quite successful.

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Don't forget that shoes are made with reinforcing tape (around the opening in pumps) and with plastic in the toe and counter which is virtually unstretchable. They are designed not to stretch. You can usually get half a size by stretching if you're lucky.

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You can also get shoe stretcher spray but it's only effective on leather.

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I heard many times about the freezer method, but I never used it. Ice density is 0.917 grams per cubic cm, giving a theoretical linear expansion from water to ice of +2.9%. A US 8 (male) foot should be around 25.5-26 cm length, so you should expect - during the freezing action - a +0.75 cm length increase, more than half a US/UK size but less than one. In practice I believe that most of this action will go into width (girth) stretch of the shoe and only a small part develops into length. Another limit of this method is that it seems to work best with true leather, far less with most patent or synthetic materials. The good thing is that the ice-freezing process will mold around the original shape of the shoes and will maintain it during enlargement, with hopefully better results than other methods. In any case the idea is simple, cheap & easy to perform, so why not give it a try? There are tons of videos and "how to" pages out there. The sprays - although frequently sold as expanders - work by softening the leather, allowing local stretching around bunions, hammer toes etc., no true length increase. If you need instead more length for your toes, a stretcher may be the best tool, but consider that the sole will not lengthen up, only the upper.

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Thanks to all who responded to my post about stretching shoes. I will try some different methods. Perhaps i will be able to get good results from your suggestions.

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I found that after I got my leather pumps dyed black from grey, they stretched like you would not believe. I have three other pumps of the same shoe, and have never stretched like that.

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This might be the question I have also.   I own 2 pairs of BCBG PARIS. Sandals   The They say leather uppers But followed by Man made lining and Sole.   Can they be stretched   Please Help.  One is called Ralyssa Gladiator sandal. ( The 3 straps over the arch a bit tight. )     And the other is Farley( Just need the only strap over the toes to give alittle) My foot size is a 10 wide  And I really love the design on both.   the 10s fit length wise but a bit narrow.     Thankyou

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Professionals use a leather softener that opens the pores to allow them to stretch but you still can't stretch the other stuff the shoe is made from and you will never be able to stretch the sole. The leather is cut "tight to toe" meaning that the stretch of the leather is around the foot and not along it. If shoes were designed to stretch then they'd fall off the foot sooner or later. You will get half a size if you're lucky, a size 8 shoe will never ever stretch to a 12.

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Tried the freezing method. I did not have any luck with this method. When the ice freezes it will expand somewhat. Pressure of expanding ice will always take the path with the least resistance. If there is an opening in the shoe, like where the foot enters, all of the pressure will tend to move toward that opening.

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Be cautious trying to stretch older shoes/boots as the glue adhering the sole tends to deteriorate over time and the strain of stretching the shoe can cause a total failure.  I had a pair of older Nine West boot soles detach recently.  I had bought the boots used the width of my foot put a strain on the adhesive.  Both boots failed so I re-glued them allowing little more room for my foot's width and have enjoyed wearing them ever since.  I am not recommending this technique for new shoes/boots, rather buy something that fits.

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You could just sell your heels on and buy another pair that might fit better.

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I forgot about the freezing method long ago. It can maybe help with the toe box of sandals, because you can insert the bag with water completely inside.

With pumps, there is no way to have the water stay everywhere in the shoe before freezing. Only the toe box is stretchable in width.

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Been having problems with tight shoes, tried the freezing method with little success, so I tried going the other way, placed a pair in the oven and started to warn it up, after a bit of experimentation I found that 60deg C was high enough and kept them in for about 15 mins,at this temperature, after which I took them out and put them on and wore them until they had cooled.

Obviously this will not work with leather shoes !

 

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On 1/25/2016 at 1:45 PM, mithril768 said:

I tried going the other way, placed a pair in the oven and started to warn it up, after a bit of experimentation I found that 60deg C was high enough and kept them in for about 15 mins,at this temperature, after which I took them out and put them on and wore them until they had cooled.

 

Great tip.  I had to work at keeping the heat down to 140F (60C) but it softened the material very nicely. 

A word of caution: When putting the boots on while they are warm, be careful not to deform the heel area.

These are a size 11 and I normally wear a 12.  The length of these id Ok but the width was tight.  After the treatment they are very comfortable.

Again thanks for the tip.

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Be careful not to try higher temperatures, the trial at 65c caused the glue to melt and the sole to detach.

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2 hours ago, mithril768 said:

Be careful not to try higher temperatures, the trial at 65c caused the glue to melt and the sole to detach.

Noted and thanks.

I used this again for a pair of fur (or fuzzy material) lined boots that, because of the lining, were a little tight.  The reason I was trying those boots is because it was a rather cold day.  Putting my feet into those warm boots felt absolutely great!

I may not be getting all the way up to 60C but I am getting them warm enough to soften the synthetic material enough that it will reform when it cools.

Thanks again for the tip.

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