There is nothing more frustrating than seeing an array of boots in a department store or shoe shop and discovering that the vast majority of them are simply not made for people who have wide calves. This means that if you want a pair of boots that is fashionable you either have to learn how to alter boots for wide calves or visit a specialist retailer who caters to people with large calves.
We are going to show you some of the things that you can do if you want to stretch leather boots to fit your calves and also let you know what you shouldn’t do so that you don’t ruin your leather boots.
Just a word of warning that we do not take responsibility if any of these methods go wrong or damage your boots. Any alterations you take are at your own risk! No shoe alterations are risk-free so be cautious if you are worried about ruining your favorite boots and making them unwearable.
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How Do You Wear Boots With Big Calves?
The fact is that even if you can’t make adjustments to some of the leather boots that you are seeing in the shops there are plenty of retailers who have woken up and recognized that one size of boot shaft does not fit everyone. There are now a large number of specialists who sell wide calf boots in fashionable styles.
We believe that fashion should be inclusive and not exclusive so never feel self-conscious about the size of your calves. Everyone deserves to feel good in what they are wearing and you are no different. So if you can’t adjust standard boots to fit your legs think about viewing some of the following retailers to see if they have designs that meet your needs.
Can a Boot Shaft Be Altered?
The fact is that if you want to stretch leather boots then it is possible to make the boot shaft bigger with some of our tips and tricks. What you need to keep in mind is how much they need to be stretched and what material your boots are made from.
Leather boots with lining inside them are going to be more problematic to stretch than boots that are plain leather. This is because the material inside the boot doesn’t have the flexibility that leather does. Faux leather boots are generally going to have less give in them.
As a rule of thumb, the absolute maximum you should be able to extend the boot shaft is somewhere between 1 and 2 inches. If you need more room in the boot shaft than that you probably need to buy a new pair of boots.
We are going to talk about some of the simplest methods to stretch calf boots so they fit your legs. These methods include:
- Using Boot Bands
- Stretching With Water
- Stretching Spray
- Wearing Thick Socks
- Using a Boot Stretcher
- Freezing Your Boots
- Cutting Your Boots
- Visiting a Cobbler
Buy a Zipper Extender for Boots Such as a BootBand
One of the more ingenious devices we have seen on the market is made by a company called BootBand which has created a nifty product that helps to make normal boots suitable for large calves.
This device is a simple triangle of elasticated material which has a zipper on either side of it. This material can be cleverly attached to any zip-up leather boots to increase the size of the top of the boot shaft.
The great thing about this calf stretcher product is that it causes no damage to your boot and can be installed by anyone. All you need to do is determine if your boot’s zips are metal or coil and purchase the appropriate product.
DIY Boot Calf Stretcher -Using Water
Our next solution is probably the cheapest of all our tips and that is to stretch tight boots by immersing them in water and then wearing them.
You will need to make sure that the boots are completely soaked for at least ten minutes to allow the water to get into the leather fibers. An easy way to do this is to stand them up in the bath and leave them there for the water to do its work. Try not to get water inside the boot itself.
When the time is up take your boots out of the water and dry off any drips then put them on and start walking about in them preferably in thick socks to allow the leather to stretch.
Just remember that if you do saturate a pair of boots don’t forget to use a leather conditioner on them after they have dried to keep them supple and flexible and to prevent cracking.
How Do You Adjust Wide Calf Boots? Use a Stretching Spray
If you want to adjust the width of the shaft of your boots the next thing you can try is a leather stretching spray. You can either create your own DIY stretching spray or buy a product from a retailer such as Amazon that can help to make your boots fit your legs.
To make your own leather stretching spray you are going to need to use rubbing alcohol and water. Add a mixture of 50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol into a small spray bottle. Shake the mixture and then spray the product liberally on the inside of your leather boots.
Now put on your boots and start walking around in them for half an hour or so to allow the stretching spray to work. You should find that this DIY leather stretching spray will have helped to increase the circumference of the boot shaft. If you need a little extra room just repeat the process until you get the perfect fit.
If you want to buy a ready-made product to solve the problem of tight boots then try Angelus Shoe and Boot Stretching Spray. This product can work with other materials other than leather so it is worth giving a try if you have suede or vinyl boots as well.
Wearing Thick Socks To Stretch Your Boots
The next solution in our tips to help learn how to alter boots for wide calves really only works if you need to stretch your boots a small amount to fit more comfortably. It will not work if you are looking to increase the boot shaft to any significant amount. Of course, for many people, this may be all they need.
To stretch your boots simply wear either one or two pairs of thick socks whilst wearing boots to help break in the boot. This will give you the extra stretch you need to help the boots fit more comfortably on your calf.
When the socks are removed you should find that boot is now looser in the calf which should make your boots more comfortable.
Remember that socks can also help stretch your boots when you are using stretching sprays or the water method.
Try a Boot Calf Extender Device
If you want to know how to alter boots for wide calves then you could take the approach that the professionals use and that is by using a boot calf extender device.
A word of warning this boot stretcher is absolutely not a cheap option and is likely to cost most than the boots you are trying to stretch. It only becomes economical to use if you are regularly stretching your boots or those of your family as well.
This FootFitter Cast Aluminium Boot Instep and Shaft Stretcher is a heavy-duty product and also a thing of beauty. Now whilst style and looks are important it does a great job of altering the shaft on your boot by using pressure to stretch the leather.
The product is simply inserted into your new boots and the handle at the top is turned to expand the device to stretch the boot material. The key to doing this without damaging your boots is to slowly up the pressure until you can fit inside the boot you are stretching.
This boot stretcher doesn’t just stretch leather it also works for vinyl and canvas as well as suede and nubuck.
Using a Freezer to Change the Shape of Your Footwear
If you want to stretch calf boots or increase the size of a pair of shoes then using your freezer is also an option.
In order for this to work you need a few sealable plastic freezer bags to help. Fill the first freezer bag with water but leave some room in the bag to allow the liquid to expand. Try and squeeze any excess air from the bag and then seal it.
Now wrap this inside another bag to prevent any leakage and pop the bag inside the area of your boot that needs to be expanded.
Next, place your boot inside a bag so that it is fully covered, and place it inside your freezer.
What should happen is that the water turns to ice in the freezer and when it does this it will expand. This then places pressure on the part of your boot that needs to be expanded. Over a period of 24 hours, this will help to stretch the boot shaft.
When you are done simply remove the boot from the freezer and allow the water to defrost before removing the freezer bags which should now have turned back into the water.
This clearly isn’t a precise boot or shoe stretcher but it can help if you don’t have any easier alternatives available.
How to Alter Boots for Wide Calves By Cutting and Restiching Your Boots
One of the more extreme ways of stretching tall boots at the calf is by cutting the boot and inserting elastic into the area that needs to be widened then resewing.
Whilst this method can work if you know what you are doing it is never to be recommended if you don’t know what you are doing and can’t sew.
The reality is that very few people have the necessary skills to do this form of shoe repair well. It only takes a few mistakes for you to cut the leather in the wrong place or sew in the elastic badly for a boot to be ruined.
So unless you are a whizz with a sewing machine this kind of repair is best left to a cobbler at a shoe repair shop.
Can a Cobbler Stretch Your Boots Calf?
Finally last but not least your local shoe repair shop is one of the best places that you can go to stretch any boots that are too tight.
A good cobbler is worth every penny as they have all the facilities to alter any pair of boots with their machines and expertise.
A standard high street cobbler will certainly have their own boot shaft stretching devices which saves you the money of buying your own especially if it is only for one pair of boots.
More specialist shoe repair shoes will be able to cut the leather and add elastic side panels to your boots if that is what you would want. Whilst this may cost more it is worth it if it means your boots are wearable and look great at the end of the process.
Learning how to alter boots for wide calves yourself works well if you use Bootbands or use stretching sprays but can quickly get more complex for larger calf alterations. Remember to only do what you feel will alter your boots without ruining them otherwise leave the stretching up to the professionals.
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