How To Stretch Your Leather Hat

How to Stretch Your Leather Hat: 5 Easy Methods For Best Results

Donning a leather hat on a sunny day or picnic with friends can make you look stylish and trendy. Perhaps you love wearing a leather cowboy while plowing fields or riding a horse across the beautiful countryside.

However, when your leather hat just doesn’t fit right on your head, it can ruin the entire look of your outfit and also be uncomfortable to wear, especially over extended periods. If your leather hat feels too tight around your head, then we suggest following our tried-and-tested tips for stretching it.

Stretching your hat may sound unnecessary, but it can alleviate discomfort by ensuring that it doesn’t feel too tight when wearing it. This guide highlights the 5 best methods to stretch your leather hat. 

  1. The Hat Stretcher Method
  2. The Hands And Knees Method
  3. The Soccer Ball Method
  4. The Remote Control And Towels Method
  5. The Natural Method

We also answer frequently asked questions regarding stretching leather hats safely.

Method 1: Using a Hat Stretcher

A standard hat stretcher is designed to have two wooden curled pieces joined with a metal turnbuckle that adjusts how much you want to stretch a hat. Hat stretchers are available in small, medium, and large sizes and one-size-fits-all versions.

You can insert a hat stretcher inside a fitted leather hat and turn the turnbuckle until the sides are tightly stretched and taut with tension. To use a hat stretcher, you need to steam the inside of your leather hat or spray it lightly with warm water.

This will allow the leather hat to become malleable so that you can insert the hat stretcher inside. After turning the turnbuckle of the leather stretcher until the material is taut, you need to leave the hat be for a couple of hours to stretch out and dry completely.

Make sure to stretch your leather hat incrementally, in order to avoid overstretching. After a couple of hours, remove the hat stretcher and try on your leather hat. It should feel more comfortable to wear.

Method 2: Using Your Hands and Knees

If your leather hat has shrunken down due to leaving it out in the sun for too long or due to moisture and sweat, you can stretch it out using your hands and knees. Put the inside of your hat on your knee slightly and place your fingers into the crown of the hat on the opposite side. 

Stretch the hat away from your knee using your fingers while also pulling your knee in the opposite direction. Rotate the hat around periodically to stretch it evenly from all areas until you achieve the desired size.

This method may require a lot more effort, but it is a highly effective, affordable, and accessible stretching method. You can also use a leather stretching spray to speed up the process.

Method 3: The Soccer Ball Method

Another creative way to stretch out your leather hat is to place a soccer ball inside your leather hat. After wrapping a football in a plastic grocery bag (to prevent dirt from getting on it), you must place it inside the hat with the inflation point visible.

The ball should be of the perfect size and small enough to fit snugly inside and slip off easily. You can choose among the following soccer ball sizes to check which one would be best for your hat.

Size 5 27 – 28 inches (68 – 70 cm)
Size 425 – 26 inches (63.5 – 66 cm)
Size 323 – 24 inches (58.5 – 61 cm)
Size 118 – 20 inches (46 – 51 cm)

If the ball is a little too small for the hat, you can use the inflation point to inflate the ball further until it rests tautly inside the hat. Allow the ball to sit overnight in the hat and repeat the process if you need to stretch it even further.

Method 4: The Towel and Remote Control Method

If you have a fitted hat that doesn’t sit quite well on your head and is too tight, you can use a towel and remote control to stretch it out. However, before you use these household items to stretch your leather hat, you need to steam the inside lightly to loosen the fibers.

After steaming the leather hat, pack the towel inside the hat so it fills the hat entirely. As the towel takes on the shape of your hat, you need to insert a larger material to actually stretch the hat out.

We recommend inserting a TV remote inside the filled hat and leaving it in for a couple of hours. This will stretch out the inside of your hat significantly.

Method 5: Mold Leather Your Leather Hat by Wearing It

If your new hat is only slightly tight when you wear it, you can loosen it just by wearing it regularly. If the hat is too uncomfortable to wear for longer periods, we recommend steaming the inside before wearing it.

However, be careful not to scald yourself with the heat from the steam, so let it rest for a while first. We also suggest wearing it with a shower cap at home for a few hours to stretch it out easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

The techniques that we shared above are the most effective ways to stretch your leather hat. Below, you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this topic. Feel free to get in touch to have your questions added.

When Should I Stretch My Leather Hat?

If the leather hat you wear is excessively uncomfortable and leaves a mark on your forehead, it is a clear sign that the hat is too tight for wear. While you could simply purchase a bigger one, you’ll also have the option of simply stretching your leather hat.

Although most fitted hats can naturally stretch over time, it is crucial for your health that you stretch out an extremely tight hat using any of the methods above. Feel free to also use a combination of the methods that we shared above.

Why Do Leather Hats Shrink?

Dry and damp leather can shrink and stiffen easily due to heat. The collagen between the leather fibers denatures upon exposure to water, causing the leather to ultimately shrink over time.

Leather hats can easily shrink if you leave them in the sun for too long, wash them using excess water, dry them in the dryer, or don’t treat the material with leather care products regularly. Sweat and moisture from your hair and head can also cause it to shrink as it dries.

How to Prevent Leather Hat from Shrinking

To prevent shrinkage for leather hats, you must dry our leather hats properly after use. If you notice that your leather hat has been exposed to too much sweat and grime, clean it completely from the inside and apply a leather conditioner to keep it supple.

If regular leather care doesn’t work for your hat, you can use a hat stretcher to prevent your hat from shrinking. By keeping it sufficiently taut during storage, you can ensure that your leather hat will not shrink or lose its shape.

Are the Hat Stretching Methods Listed Suitable for All Types of Leather Hats?

Yes, the hat stretching methods listed above are suitable for all types of leather hats. Whether you own a suede or nubuck leather hat, you can use any of the aforementioned methods to stretch out your leather hat safely.

This also applies to different styles of leather hats, such as leather hunting hats, leather cowboy hats, and leather caps, amongst various others.

About Matthew

Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief & Writer At Leatherskill

I’m a leather enthusiast turned artisan. Apart from crafting leather products, I’m passionate about writing in-depth guides and reviews on all things leather!