Shrink-to-Fit: How to Shrink Shoes That Are Too Big?

By Dimi | Tips

how to shrink shoes

How to shrink shoes if they are half a size bigger?

After being tempted into buying a pair of lovely ballerina pumps which were half a size bigger than mine, I was absolutely determined to find a way to actually shrink them down to fit me perfectly. I was absolutely in love with them, and their price was great too!

So, after some extensive research, here are some of the methods I found and tried.

Shrinking shoes methods:

Method #1 – Shrinking leather shoes: The heat and water method for shoe shrinking is great for leather shoes, because leather is flexible and can change shapes when dampened. The important thing to remember before trying out this method with your leather shoes is to never oversaturate them with water, because you can actually ruin the leather with too much water. Use a clean spray bottle to spray the leather shoes and then use the medium to high heat level of your hairdryer to dry them off. Do not blow heat from too closely!

After you get them completely dried off, try them on. You should feel them fitting a bit tighter than before. If they need more shrinking, you can repeat the process, but with utmost care not to ruin the leather. When you are done, you must apply a good quality leather conditioning product, so that the leather doesn’t dry up too much and crack.

Method #2 – Shrinking canvas shoes: Another method for using heat and water to make your shoes slightly smaller is suitable for canvas, tennis shoes or some of the travel shoes. Spray them intensively with water and place them in your dryer for about a quarter of an hour. Once you try them on, they should be tighter fitting.

If you don’t want to subject your shoes to intensive heat, you can use water and natural heat instead. Spray them with water and leave them to dry naturally outdoors if it is warm enough, but don’t leave them under direct sunlight for hours, because it could cause their colors to fade.

Method #3 – Insoles: If the heat and water methods fail or an inapplicable for your shoes, you should try placing inserts or orthotics in them to make them fit tighter. You can stuff some cotton, crumpled paper of foam in front too.

Method #4 – Strap: If your shoes are suitable, you can as a cobbler to place a strap to keep your feet fit safely and comfortably in them at all times.

For my case with the pretty textile ballerina pumps, this method was the most suitable and successful one, and it involves sewing in a short piece of elastic band for garments on the inner side of the shoe in the back. This definitely helps my shoes to stay on my feet, even though they are half a size larger than what I usually wear.

Method #5 – Socks: For work shoes, boots and other shoes which allow the wearing of thick socks, you should try wearing thicker socks than usual in order for them to fit better.

In order to avoid getting shoes which don’t fit you properly, it is always recommended to try them on in a brick and mortar store, even if you are planning to buy them online anyway. Always try out shoes at the end of the day, when the feet have expanded naturally to the maximum. Plus, wear the kind of sock you plan to be wearing with these shoes once you buy them.

Even if you have gotten shoes which are half a size bigger, you can always store them away for days and times when your feet feel swollen and your normal shoes do not fit you properly! There will be such days, unfortunately. As a mother of three I am painfully aware of how my feet feel in the last trimester of the pregnancy…