Leather is among the oldest and most used materials in the world, and is made into everything from shoes to hats to car seats. At times, especially when first purchased, leather can be too stiff or tight to use, whether for wearing or for crafting. The different methods of stretching leather depend on what the leather item is, the materials at hand, and how much time there is to give the leather a good stretch.
One method of stretching leather is to use a commercial product such as a leather-stretching spray. Simply apply the stretcher to the leather and wear the item continuously while the spray is on it. The spray makes the leather softer and stretchy and the process of wearing the item naturally causes the skin to stretch from use.
Completely submerge the item in a container filled with warm water and allow it to soak for 10 minutes. Twist and bend the item if necessary to make sure every part of it is wet. Once the item is thoroughly soaked, wear it for an hour or two to help it stretch and fit as needed. This method works best for larger items such as trousers, shirts and jackets.
This method is best used with leather shoes. Place a plastic bag inside each of the shoes and fill the bag with water. Make sure there are no leaks and that the bag is tightly sealed. Place the shoes in the freezer. Unlike most liquids, water expands as it freezes and as the water becomes ice, it will stretch the shoes making them easier and more comfortable to wear.
Fill a spray bottle with a mixture of three parts water and one part isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Spray the mixture onto the area of the leather item that needs stretching, and wear it until the item is completely dry in those places. This is best for some items that haven't stretched evenly or still have some tight areas.
The simplest and most used method for stretching leather: wear the item. Leather will naturally stretch over time to fit the wearer. The problem with this method is that it is slower than others and may be uncomfortable while the item is still being stretched, but it also allows the item to stretch and contour exactly as needed so that it is tight in areas that need to be tight and stretched in places that need to stretch. This method can be hastened by packing the item while it's worn, such as wearing several layers of socks while breaking in a pair of leather shoes.