How to Stretch Shoes Easily & Paint Them For a Whole New Look

Break n Remake
by Break n Remake
8 Materials
1 Day

Are your leather shoes too tight? Are they pinching you? This is the best way to stretch leather shoes at home. This tutorial will help you stretch them with ice so you can wear those expensive shoes and be comfortable.

And once they’re comfortable, they don’t need to look comfortable! There is a way to paint leather!

Tools and materials:

  • Self-sealing bags like Ziploc in quart size
  • Water
  • Freezer
  • Acrylic/fabric/leather paint
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cloth
  • Masking or painters tape
  • Paintbrush 
Pouring water into a sealable bag

1. Stretch the shoes

If your leather shoes are too tight in the toe box, you can stretch them at home. Fill a self-sealing bag with about a cup of water or halfway up the bag. Tightly seal the bag and place it into another self-sealing bag -this step helps to prevent leaks and other water issues. 

Placing the bags of water into the shoes

Place the bags into the toe area of the leather shoes. Do the other shoe. Keep in the freezer for at least 24 hours.

As water freezes, it expands. This action helps to create more room in the toe box part of the shoe - expanding it about 1 to 1½ times bigger!

After 24 hours, take the shoes out of the freezer. Then, remove and discard the ice bags. Let the shoes come to room temperature. You can wear them immediately or paint them.

If your shoes have been looking tired, scuffed, or faded, it is totally possible and easy to paint leather shoes. Here’s how to do it!

Applying rubbing alcohol to leather shoes

2. Prep the shoes

Before painting, remove any laces. Use a cloth with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils or dirt from the leather.

Applying painters tape to the shoes

Place masking or painter’s tape on any parts that you don’t want to paint. I’m pretty careful, so I just wrap it around the heel and edges of the sole. If you don’t feel super confident with your painting prowess, you can tape the entire shoe bottom.

Applying paint to the shoes

3. Apply the paint

Start by painting at the back of the shoe. This way, if the color isn’t correct, you can take it off quickly. Paint dries darker than the color in the can or bottle - about 1 to 2 shades darker - so keep that in mind!

Some paints have less flexibility than others, so acrylic paint may crack with wear. If you’re concerned about that, use fabric or leather paint.

I painted two pairs of shoes. For one, I changed the color, and for the other, I freehand drew a lacy pattern using a lighter color to offset the brown. 

Painted shoes

What do you think? Do you like the blue paint on the shoes?

Painting designs on shoes

How to paint shoes with flower designs

I am a bit on the fence about the floral pattern on the shoe. I think I would do it a bit differently next time because the flowers smudged a bit. 

How to stretch shoes and paint them

How to stretch shoes and paint them

Please let me know in the comments what you think about the painting. Don’t forget to let me know how the “at home stretch with ice” worked for you!

Suggested materials:
  • Self-sealing bags like Ziploc in quart size
  • Water
  • Freezer
See all materials

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Join the conversation
3 of 10 comments
  • Evie Evie on Sep 30, 2021

    I love the creativity. It's inspired me to try a paisley print on a pair of old shoes.

  • Jac10889307 Jac10889307 on Oct 01, 2021

    Can you make leather shoes tighter I loaned mine out and now they are too big

    • J J on Sep 27, 2022

      Moisten the inside of the shoes with a spray bottle containing water. (not too much or they will stain the outside of the shoe). Allow them to dry in a hot location and they will return to their original shape and size. This also works for canvas paintings that have been stretched out or creased. Spray the back of the canvas and it will return to its original flat surface when dry.