Stretching a hat can be simple and cost-effective.
- Wear the hat around the house.
- Use a hairdryer after dampening the hat.
- Apply steam from boiling water.
- Inflate a ball inside the hat overnight.
- Stretch with a balloon and conditioner mix.
I easily stretch my hats by wearing them as I go about my chores at home. This method naturally molds the hat to the shape of my head. If I need to stretch a hat more quickly, I spray it with lukewarm water and use my hairdryer to warm up the material; then, I wear it until it dries for a perfect fit. Steaming is another one of my go-to methods; I just hold the hat over steam from boiling water and then dry it with a hairdryer.
Overnight stretching is great, too—I sometimes use a youth-sized soccer ball or an inflated balloon, which expands the hat slightly. If I opt for the balloon method, I mix a little baby shampoo or conditioner with water to soften the material for even more stretch. These methods are not only efficient but also save money since I don’t have to buy special tools or visit a professional.
Adding an accessory to an outfit is a fun way to add flair to your style. Hats are an accessory that offers flair as well as function. However, hats are not one-size-fits-all, and there are many methods for how to stretch a hat that require very little work or expertise.
Nowadays, many baseball caps come with an adjustable strap for the convenience of the wearer, but what about other types of hats? How do you stretch a fedora, beret, trilby, visor, or even your winter hats? Not all caps fit your head perfectly.
Some people find themselves in situations where one hat size is too small, but the next size up is too large. In that case, purchasing a smaller size is the better option because there are far more ways to stretch a hat than to shrink one. If you recently bought a new hat that doesn’t fit quite right, there are many ways to stretch a hat that gives you the fit you’re looking for.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Hats
Purchasing this trendy head covering leaves you with many factors to take into consideration. Ask yourself whether you want a hat for fashion or function. Whatever your desires are, think about what type of hat best serves you.
Each hat style is fitting for a specific occasion. You know that a winter beanie is worn outside in cold weather and that a baseball cap blocks the sun from your eyes, but have you ever considered the importance of the hat’s material?
Fabrics make a world of difference in your hat’s performance. Wool offers warmth. Straw and cotton are breathable. Silk, cashmere, and suede offer softness but shouldn’t get wet. Be sure to do a little research or ask a salesperson what material best suits your needs.
More importantly, your hat’s fit should be one of your main priorities when searching for the right lid. Hat companies like New Era now place stickers on their products to help customers easily find the size they’re looking for.
However, not all hats have these sizing guides, which leaves many hat shoppers unsure of what size to purchase. As a rule of thumb, if one finger fits between your head and the cap, you likely have a properly fitting hat.
Keep in mind that the natural fibers of hats cause gradual shrinking over time. Sweat, humidity, and weather conditions all take a toll on the fit. That’s when knowing how to stretch a fitted hat, whether you need to restretch rayon, wool, or another material, comes in handy.
Stretching Hats for the Ideal Fit
Don’t let a new hat get the best of you. If your hat doesn’t fit perfectly, don’t return it and purchase a new one in a size that might now be too big.
Shrinking hats requires far more work than stretching them, particularly polyester shrinkage and other more delicate materials. Thankfully, there are various hat stretching techniques for you to tackle. Try them all to see what strategy works best for you.
Breaking in a Hat
The most straightforward way to stretch a hat is to wear it. If your cap is a little tight on your noggin, wear it around the house while you’re doing chores or watching television.
Your head naturally starts to stretch that material. After a few wearings, you’ll have a comfortable fit that feels customized for your head’s shape and size.
Zero Equipment Hat Stretcher
If you have a baseball cap that requires minimal stretching, you can create a comfortable fit without any equipment or materials.
Place your hat so that the crown of the hat is over your knee. With a firm grasp, pull on the sides of the cap to stretch the material. Put the hat on and repeat as necessary.
This stretching method works best for hats that only require slight adjustments. Just remember not to pull too hard, or you might rip the fabric or damage the sweatband.
Expanding the Fit with a Hairdryer
If wearing your hat around your house isn’t providing you with the comfortable wear you’re looking for, give it added stretch with a little water and a hairdryer. This tactic works on straw hats, cotton hats, baseball caps, or a classic felt design.
Pour lukewarm water into a spray bottle. Spritz the inside of the cap and band, as well as the outside of the crown until damp. Turn your hairdryer on its hottest heat setting and blow-dry until it is almost dry.
Once the hat is damp, place it on your head to air dry to allow the cap to stretch and mold into the perfect fit. Make sure not to spray your hat until it’s dripping wet.
If you’re working with something like a vintage baseball hat, the bills may be made out of cardboard and cause damage. Always be mindful of your hat’s make up.
Water and a hair dryer are also effective when making a shirt bigger or stretching out other garments.
Using Steam on Hats to Make Them Bigger
People use steam to get the wrinkles out of clothing, like ironing denim, but it also helps create the perfect hat size. This steaming method heats the hat’s material, allowing it to stretch, but it also sanitizes and kills odors left behind from sweat.
It may not remove sweat stains from hats, but this technique leaves you with a clean and comfortable wear. Steaming is safe for straw, cotton, wool, and felt hats.
In the tea kettle or small pot, bring water to a boil. Hold the brim of the hat so that the interior is six inches away from the hot water. Hold the hat over the steam for one minute. Remove for 30 seconds. Repeat this a minimum of four times.
Turn your hairdryer on its highest heat setting and blow the crown until mostly dry. Wear the hat and let it air dry. The steam’s heat and moisture allow the material to stretch while making your hat become the perfect size for your head. Steam can also be used to clean a baseball hat.
Turn on your dryer to high speed to get the sweat smell out of hats, remove wrinkles, and reshape the hat.
Using a Soccer Ball
Start digging through your kid’s old sports gear or make a quick trip to the store. A youth-sized soccer ball transforms into an efficient hat stretcher. This method works exceptionally well on non-adjustable fitted hats.
Wrap the ball in a plastic grocery bag to avoid any dirt getting onto your hat. Place the ball inside of the hat, with the inflation point on the ball still accessible.
The ball should fit snugly inside the hat, while still being able to slip off easily. If the ball doesn’t fit snugly, use a tire or ball pump to inflate it further. Let sit overnight. Repeat as necessary.
A Balloon Stretches a Hat
Balloons make an excellent replacement hat stretcher if you don’t have a soccer ball. Throw in a few extra materials to ensure that your hat fits perfectly.
Blow up a party balloon so that it fits inside the crown of your hat. In a spray bottle, combine one teaspoon of baby shampoo or regular conditioner with warm water until suds form. With the balloon inside the crown, mist the hat until moist.
Use your fingers to tug on the edges so that more of the balloon’s surface is covered. Let sit overnight to air dry. Remove the balloon and try on the hat. If the fit is still too tight, repeat the process.
If you are unable to find a spray bottle, submerge your hat in warm water instead of spraying it. This is also the best way to wash baseball caps. Before trying this method, make sure your hat doesn’t contain materials that get damaged from being completely wet.
Purchase a Hat Stretcher
If you’re open to purchasing products for stretching your hats, there are hat stretchers, such as a hat jack, that do most of the work for you. Hat jacks work best on both felt and straw hats.
Some are especially appropriate for cowboy hats because they absorb moisture to help preserve leather sweatbands. Place the hat stretcher inside your hat and adjust the device until the hat is taut.
Place the stretcher against the hat band, or else it might ruin the shape of your hat’s crown. Let sit overnight and repeat as necessary. If you’re looking for even better results, incorporate the steaming method mentioned previously before using the hat jack.
Contact a Milliner
Sometimes stretching your hats is a bit scary if you’re working with a vintage or specialty hat that you’re not willing to try to adjust yourself. Taking your hat to a hatter or milliner is a great way to get a custom fit and support small business.
A professional hatter can resize almost any hat. They often add fabric and restructure it to make it wearable for you and your needs. A hat shop also has special machinery that allows you to custom-fit in a short amount of time.
If you’re prepared to spend a little bit of money to ensure that your favorite hat is appropriately handled, contacting a professional is likely your best option.
The next time you pull out an old hat and discover that it’s a little too tight, there is no reason to throw it out and spend money on a new one.
There are various ways to stretch a hat that are all simple enough to do yourself. If you know how to stretch a fitted hat, you’ll be able to accessorize without risking the comfort of your now perfectly-fit hat.
If you used our tips on how to stretch a hat, and were able to make a tight fit feel comfortable again, share these hat stretching techniques with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest.