How To Stretch Canvas Shoes To Fit Your Feet

There are a few ways to stretch canvas shoes. Some simply go for the standard method of wearing them in. While this is a good method, others may suit you better, which is where we come in.

We know there’s nothing worse than tight shoes, so we’ve found the top methods to help you get them fitting right.

These are the best ways of how to stretch canvas shoes: 

  • Wear them in.
  • Stuff the shoe.
  • Heat them.
  • Freeze the shoe.
  • Stretching shoe tools.

how to stretch canvas shoes

Why Would I Need to Know How to Stretch Canvas Shoes?

We’ve all tried shoes on in the store, with them feeling like a perfect fit, only to get home later and find that the shoes are too tight.

To fix this, you may just need to break them in, which you could do by taking a walk around your house for a bit.

But, if they’re really tight, and you’re worried that they’ll rub and hurt your feet, then you may want to stretch your canvas shoes.

We’ve put together a guide that will show you how to safely stretch canvas shoes without damaging them. This will help stretch the canvas so that your new shoes are comfortable and are the perfect fit for your feet.

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Ways to Stretch Your Canvas Shoes

There are five easy ways to stretch a pair of canvas shoes, and they are as follows:

  • Wear them in.
  • Stuff the shoe.
  • Heat them.
  • Freeze the shoe.
  • Stretching shoe tools.

We’ll go into each method so you can wear your shoes as soon as possible, without worrying about over-stretching them.

1. Wear Them In

To wear your shoes in, put on a pair of thick socks, and wear the shoes around the house for short periods, or until you can feel them start to hurt your feet.

If your shoes have laces, make sure that you tie them like you normally would without making them too tight, while wearing the thick socks.

Also, remember to flex your feet in the shoes, as this will also help to stretch shoes effectively.

You’ll need to be a bit more patient with this method, but it’s a great way to gradually stretch the canvas as you can feel when they fit you better without over-stretching the shoes.

2. Stuff Them

You can roll up a pair of thick socks and stuff those into the shoes to help stretch the canvas. This can help you get some more wiggle room, especially if the shoes are tight around the toes.

If you don’t want to use socks, roll newspaper into balls, and stuff them into every inch of the canvas shoe.

  1. Make sure that the newspaper or socks are packed in tightly together so that it will expand.
  2. Then, leave your shoes overnight.
  3. In the morning, see if they’ve loosened enough to comfortably fit your foot.
  4. If you feel that they can stretch a bit more, just repeat the process.

3. Heat Them Up

Shoe stretching with heat can be tricky, which is why we suggest using a hairdryer first.

  1. Put on your chunky socks and canvas shoes.
  2. Then use the hairdryer to warm the areas of the shoes that feel too tight.
  3. While you’re doing this, wiggle your toes and flex your feet, as this will help you move the fabric.
  4. Don’t remove the shoes when you’re done, but keep them on until they’ve cooled down completely—this will help keep the shoes stretched for longer.

Another way to stretch the shoes is by using steam. Steam will help the fabric to relax, which will make it easy for you to stretch:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove.
  2. Grab oven mitts to protect your hands and forearms from getting burned.
  3. Hold your shoes over the steam for approximately five minutes.
  4. Before you slip your feet into the shoes, make sure that they’re not hot, and then walk around to stretch them.
  5. If you feel they need a bit more stretch, repeat the above steps.

4. Use the Freezing Trick

Using water to stretch canvas is effective and quick:

  1. Fill two ziplock bags with water until they’re a quarter full.
  2. Then double-bag them.
  3. Place them in your shoe, making sure they fill the shoe’s space and that the bags don’t leak.
  4. Now place them in the freezer. As the water freezes, it expands, and this stretches the shoe.
  5. Leave the shoes in the freezer overnight and try them on in the morning.
  6. If you find that shoes are still a little snug, repeat the process.

We’ve also covered this method in our how to stretch leather boots article, showing that it’s tried and tested.

5. Buy a Shoe Stretching Tool

If you’ve tried all the above methods and feel that your shoes are still a little tight, then try using either a ball and ring stretcher tool or stretcher spray.

  1. Start by finding the area of the shoe that needs to be stretched out the most.
  2. Then, place the ball side in the shoe with the ring on the outside.
  3. Adjust the tool until the inside of the shoe is pushed out.
  4. Leave this overnight so that it loosens the shoes further.

Use the stretcher spray with the ball and ring tool to prevent overstretching your shoes, as the spray will help loosen the fabric.

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FAQs About Stretching Canvas Shoes

Do Shoe Stretchers Work on Canvas Shoes?

Shoe stretchers do work on canvas shoes and give you up to half an inch of extra space. The stretch shoe tool will work a lot better with natural materials, like canvas and leather. However, they can stretch some synthetic materials.

You may have to repeat the process more than once, as polyurethane will shrink back to its original size.

If you need to loosen your shoes both in length and width, use a two-way shoe stretcher. This tool will also allow you to increase either the length or width on its own.

How Can I Stretch My Vans Shoes?

You can stretch your Vans shoes by bending the shoe using your hands:

  1. Bend the toe of the shoe towards the heel until you feel some resistance.
  2. Then hold the shoe in that position for a few seconds.
  3. Repeat with the other shoe, repeating until they fit better.

You’ll find that this will help the Vans mold to your feet’s arches more.

How Can I Make My Sneakers Bigger?

You can use shoe stretch spray designed to be used on canvas, material and leather to make your sneakers bigger. It’s advisable to use the spray in conjunction with a shoe stretcher:

  1. Use the spray on areas of the shoe that feel tight.
  2. Then walk around in them for an hour, which will allow you to feel if the material has stretched.
  3. If they still need some wiggle room, spray the new shoes again, and then use the shoe stretcher overnight.

If you’re not comfortable with any of the home methods that have been mentioned, you can always take your shoes to a cobbler or shoe repair shop. They’d be able to stretch the shoes with the tools they have in store.

How Can I Make My Sneakers Smaller If I Stretch Them Too Much?

If you’ve overstretched your shoes, it may not be possible to shrink them back to their original size. However, you can:

  1. Dab water on the area that needs to be smaller, but be careful not to saturate the area.
  2. Once that’s done, grab the blow dryer and hold it at a distance of 6 inches.
  3. Start drying the area on medium heat until it’s dry to the touch.
  4. Once it’s cooled down, slip your foot into the shoe and see if it feels tighter.

This method can be applied to leather, canvas and suede shoes.

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Final Thoughts

Once you know how to stretch canvas shoes, you can use these methods for every pair you buy. There’s no need to suffer through pinched toes and blistered feet just to look stylish!

Just be careful when using heat or tools to stretch your canvas shoes. Do everything carefully and don’t rush the process. These are foolproof methods to loosen your shoes, if you do them right.


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