There are a number of reasons why you might need to stretch your canvas shoes; from simply just breaking them in, to adjusting a pair that is too tight. We’ve all been there, you try your shoes on in the shop and they fit perfectly, but when you wear them out for the first time, they rub and leave you with sore feet.
The first and perhaps the most convenient method for loosening a pair of canvas shoes is to dig out a pair of thick socks. You can wear these with your canvas shoes to slowly stretch the material without hurting your feet.
Find a pair of winter socks and wear them inside your new canvas shoes
Tie your shoelaces as you normally would, making sure they’re not too tight
Wear your shoes around the house for a couple of hours at a time and repeat the process as necessary
This method is a great way to slowly and gradually stretch your canvas shoes to ensure you loosen them just the right amount. You don’t want to overstretch them and make the shoes too loose.
Another way to stretch your canvas shoes is to stuff them, especially if your new shoes are particularly tight on the toes and need that extra bit of wiggle room.
Screw up some newspaper or roll up a couple of pairs of socks
Push your newspaper or rolled-up socks right to the end of your canvas shoes, ensuring they are squeezed in tightly enough to stretch the material
Leave your shoes to stretch overnight and remove the stuffing in the morning
If your shoes are not loose enough, repeat the process until they are
A less conventional method of stuffing is to fill two zip-lock bags with water and seal them tightly before popping them into the toes of your shoes and putting them in the freezer. As the water freezes, it will expand and stretch the fabric of the shoe. But be careful, you don’t want the water to leak inside your new shoes!
Similar to freezing, heat can also help to stretch canvas shoes. An easy hack you can do at home is to put a pair of thick socks on with your shoes and use your hairdryer to warm the fabric.
Dig out a pair of chunky socks and put on your canvas shoes
Use a hairdryer to warm each of the areas where your shoes feel too tight
Whilst warming each area, flex your feet and wiggle your toes to move the shoe’s material as much as you can
Keep your thick socks and shoes on until they are cool - this helps to keep the shoes stretched out for longer
If you’ve tried all our at-home methods but your canvas shoes are still a little on the tight side, there are tools you can buy to help loosen the material. A ball and ring shoe stretcher can help to widen specific problem areas and a two-way shoe stretcher can stretch the whole shoe at once.
Find the area of your shoe which needs stretching the most
Put the ball side of the tool inside the shoe and the ring on the outside
Pull the arms of the stretcher together until the ball on the inside of the shoe is pushing the fabric out to the desired amount
Screw the arms into place using the integrated screw fitting
You will see some movement immediately, but you can leave the stretcher in your shoes overnight to loosen further
Place the stretcher inside your canvas shoe with the screw end at the heel of the shoe
Turn the screw until the fabric starts to stretch
Leave the shoe to stretch overnight and turn the screw one full turn every eight hours as required
You can find these tools online, or your local cobbler might be able to help you source one. Shoe stretching tools can be great, but always ensure you try to stretch your canvas shoes gradually so that you don’t overstretch them.
Once you’ve discovered a method that works for you, your new canvas shoes will be ready to take on the outside world! If you’re worried about your new shoes getting dirty outdoors, check out our guide to keeping them clean and fresh.