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How to stretch a leather hat

Updated February 21, 2017

Many people purchase accessories, such as leather hats, from online stores. We cannot try on these hats before we buy them and therefore can be left with hats that are too small. Leather hats also have a tendency to shrink after they have not been worn for extended periods of time and when they have been left in the sun for too long. Wearing a hat that is too small is uncomfortable and looks odd. But don't throw out your ill-fitting hat just yet. There are a number of procedures and products that can stretch your leather hat for a better fit.

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  1. Sit down and place the top of the leather hat on one knee. Insert your hands into the crown of the hat and pull outwards very gently. Hold the pull for five seconds and then release. Rotate the hat and repeat the pulling motions until the hat is evenly stretched. Try the hat on and repeat as necessary until you achieve the desired size.

  2. Use a sponge or spray bottle to dampen the leather hat with warm water. Place the wet hat on your head or on a hat stand that is the size of your head. Leave the hat in place until it is completely dry. The leather will stretch to accommodate the new size.

  3. Purchase a hat stretcher that is designed to accommodate your hat size. Dampen the hat with warm water and insert the hat stretcher into the band of the hat. Adjust to your proper hat size. Allow the hat to dry completely while the hat stretcher is in place. The leather will dry to the appropriate size.

  4. Tip

    Determine your hat size by wrapping a tape measure around the circumference of your head and above your eyebrows. Pass the tape measure across both of your temples evenly. Record the number of inches and compare it to a hat-sizing chart to find your correct size. If your measurement falls between two hat sizes, use the larger size for better comfort.


    Pull very gently when stretching the hat by hand. Make sure to try the hat on after each complete rotation. If you pull too hard or too much, you risk making the hat too big. Never dry a wet leather hat using extreme heat such as the kind that emits from a hair dryer. The heat can damage the leather and cause it to shrink. Always air-dry wet leather.

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Things You'll Need

  • Leather hat
  • Sponge or spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Hat stand
  • Hat stretcher
  • Tape measure

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

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