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How to make the calves on boots smaller

Updated November 21, 2016

Finding a pair of stylish boots that fit both your feet and your calves presents a challenge for many people. If you have thin calves, one strategy is to try modifying your wardrobe to make the boots tighter by wearing thick socks or wearing the boots over trousers. In order to modify the calves of boots yourself, you need to be confident in your ability to stitch them evenly, and you must be willing to take a chance that the finished product may not look as you'd pictured.

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  1. Cut a V-shape into the back of the boot with shearing scissors, starting right above the ankle or a little below the area where the boots are too loose.

  2. Try on the boots and pull the back of the boot tight against your calf and measure the excess boot material around the back of your calf using a tape measure. Measure 1/8 to 1/4 of this amount along both edges of the slit using a tape measure. Fold this length to the inside of the boot and hand-sew in place using a leather-point sewing needle and heavy-duty thread. Repeat this procedure with the other boot.

  3. Measure placements for holes in equal increments, such as ½ inch or 1 inch, and use a leather punch to create holes along the cut edge of the boot.

  4. Weave boot laces through the holes in the back of the boot.

  5. Tip

    When buying your next pair of boots, be proactive and flexible when picking out styles. Boots with laces, buckles or straps are easier to adjust to calf size than are slip-on styles or boots with zippers. Consider buying a ruffled style, as the excess material around your calves will not be as noticeable. It is generally easier to have a cobbler take in boots that have zippers than boots with laces. If you take your boots to a cobbler, you will not be limited to a lace-up style. The cobbler will measure your calf and remove the excess boot and stitch or glue the boot back together. It may also be possible to add a zipper to slip-on boots that are too large around the calves.


    If your boots are very expensive or special to you, get an estimate from a cobbler. If it fits your budget, it may be better to have the boots professionally taken in at the calves than attempting to do the job yourself.

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Shearing scissors
  • Leather-point sewing needle
  • Heavy-duty thread
  • Leather punch
  • Boot laces

About the Author

Tammy Domeier

Based in Minneapolis, MN, Tammy Domeier began her writing career in 1998, writing user manuals for the commercial printing and graphics industry. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Minnesota State University at Mankato and a paralegal certificate from Minnesota Paralegal Institute.

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