A couple of weeks ago, I rambled about how I was so incredibly excited that I was finally going to have a pair of Sailor Moon boots to call my own. The boots showed up on Monday, and I excitedly went to try them on, only to find out…
…that my calves were a little too muscular for these boots. Curse you, muscular calves! (Well, not really, I like my calves.)
I ended up messaging the seller (Catzia) telling her the boots didn’t fit my calves, and I asked if I could exchange them for a larger size in hopes that they might fit my legs better. She said she’d be happy to exchange them, but before doing that, I should try to stretch the boots out using a hair dryer to see if I could get them stretched out enough to fit. And it worked! They were snug, but I could zip them up all the way!
While I was waiting to hear back from Catzia, I found a number of “how to stretch shoes” tutorials out there. When I came across the hair dryer method, I figured it’d work for the boots (but didn’t want to try it until I’d heard back from Catzia) – but most of these methods focused on making the foot area of a shoe wider, not necessarily the calves. And they all focused on leather shoes, and not vinyl boots.
Enter The Crafty Nerd, armed with a hair dryer and a pair of epic Sailor Moon boots.
How to stretch vinyl boots with a hair dryer
Supplies you’ll need:
- the boots you want to stretch
- a hair dryer
- a little patience
Step 1: Put one boot on, and zip it up almost as far as it’ll go on your leg.
Step 2: Set your hair dryer to high heat, and turn it on. Heat the section of your boot just above where the zipper is for about 20-30 seconds – go all the way around your leg to help warm up the vinyl and encourage it to stretch a bit. If your leg – especially the exposed part – gets too hot, it’s time to stop.
Step 3: Carefully pull the zipper up through the area you just heated. You should be able to get it up through that area easily.
Step 4: Repeat step 2 with another section of boot, heating for a maximum of 30 seconds or when your leg gets too hot. (You don’t want to burn yourself!)
Step 5: Repeat step 3, pulling the zipper through the newly heated area.
Keep working through steps 2 and 3 until you’re able to zip your boot all the way up.
Once you’ve got the first boot done, it’s time to do the next boot – just follow the same process you did for the first one.
After you’ve got both boots stretched out, wear them for a little bit to help them keep their shape. (I left mine on for an hour after I first stretched them.) You’ll likely need to repeat the process a few times before they retain their shape permanently, so don’t be surprised if you put your boots on a few weeks after you’ve stretched them the first time and they don’t quite fit perfectly.
A couple of caveats:
- If you don’t have a high tolerance for heat, be careful and only do small sections at a time with a bit of a break in-between, or try using a lower heat setting. Please don’t burn yourself – I know that sometimes cosplay involves pain (especially with shoes!), but you don’t want to end up hurting yourself before the event you’re cosplaying at.
- Don’t use a heat gun (usually used to help shape Worbla or other cosplay materials) on your boots. You’ll probably melt them and seriously injure yourself. Again, please don’t burn yourself.
- If you’ve tried the stretching method I’ve described and your boots still haven’t stretched enough to fit properly, you might need to try a different pair of boots. Don’t try to overheat the vinyl, or try to cram yourself into something that doesn’t fit properly – you’ll likely end up hurting yourself, and that’s no good.
- Since you’ll be aiming a hair dryer at your legs for a fair amount of time, you might want to set yourself up someplace where there’s a fair bit of airflow so you don’t overheat. My first stretching attempt was done in my tiny bathroom, and I got warm pretty quickly in there – even with the door open.
Hopefully this tutorial will help other cosplayers with their vinyl boots – even if they just need a little bit of stretching to make them fit properly!