How to Stretch a Hat: 5 Easy Hat Hacks

How to Stretch a Hat: 5 Easy Hat Hacks

Last updated by Yauni Smith on

Hats are a great way to stay comfortable in any weather. There's a style for every occasion, whether it's raining, sunny, or snowy. But, if your hat's too tight, it can be more painful than it's worth.

Luckily, it's easy to subtly adjust the size of your hat to get a better fit. Using only a few household items or easily accessible tools, you can stretch your hat right at home.

Keep reading to learn how to stretch a hat to get the perfect fit!

Related: Hat Size Chart

Buy the Right Size

The biggest thing you can do to ensure your hat fits well is to buy the right size from the get-go. If you are purchasing in-store, you can simply try the hat on. You want to be able to fit one finger between your head and the hat.

If the hat is too tight or overly fitted, it might give you a headache. But if it's too loose, you'll spend your time worrying it will fall off.

Luckily, if you're buying a hat online, there are steps you can take to ensure a great fit too. First, start by checking the sizing chart if available. Some styles of hats are available in different sizes, and this can help you home in on the right one.

It's also best to purchase from a store that will take care of you. For instance, at American Hat Makers, we want you to be fully satisfied with your purchase. If your hat doesn't fit, we'll help you replace it with one that does.

Once you buy a hat, wearing it will also help it stretch a bit. The material will loosen naturally, so it better fits your head. If this doesn't stretch it out enough, you can try additional methods of stretching.

Spray Then Stretch

For this technique, you'll need a blow dryer and spray bottle. This simple method works well with a few different materials, including cotton, straw, and felt. It also works for fitted baseball caps.

Fill the spray bottle with lukewarm water. Don't use hot water.

Then, spray outside and inside the crown. Also, spray inside the band. Make sure you don't completely wet the hat. This could lead to damage or bleeding dye.

You don't need to wet the brim. You don't want to shrink this part. This is especially important to avoid with vintage hats. For example, baseball caps made before the early '80s often had cardboard bills. These can easily become damaged if the brim gets too wet.

Turn your hairdryer on its highest setting. Blow dry the inside and outside of the hat until it's mostly dry. You can gently hold the hat while doing this.

Put the hat on while it is still mildly damp. Allow it to air dry. This will let it mold and stretch to the shape of your head.

Want to keep your hat in the best condition possible? Take a look at our hat care products, including adjusters that can make your hat larger or smaller!!

Steam and Shape

The steaming and shaping technique also works well with cotton, straw, and felt, as it is very effective for natural fibers. This makes it a popular way to stretch a hat. 

You'll need a blow dryer and a small pot or tea kettle of water.

Start by heating the water until it starts to boil. 

Hold the hat by the brim, about six inches from the steam. 

Keep it there for one minute. Make sure the steam makes it to the inside of the band.

Take it away from the steam for 30 minutes. Repeat these steps a minimum of four times.

Turn your hairdryer on its highest setting and dry the inside of the crown until it is almost dry.

While the had is mildly damp, put it on. Allow it to air dry so it can stretch to the right size.

Use the Right Tools

You can also use some basic tools that make it easier to stretch your hat. These can also help keep it the right size even when you aren't wearing it. 

A hat stretcher is an adjustable wooden tool that works similarly to a shoe stretcher. It gently puts pressure on the material, easing it out without deforming it. This kind of tool works well with straw and felt hats. They also help preserve leather sweatbands by absorbing moisture, keeping them cleaner.

You can use a hat stretcher while the hat is dry. However, if you want to speed the process up, you can steam it. Simply follow the directions mentioned before.

Related: How To Shape Your Felt, Straw, And Leather Hats

Either way, the next step is to insert the hat stretcher into the hat, then crank it open until it's tight. The device should rest against the hatband but not above it. Incorrect placement could ruin the shape or leave an imprint in the crown.

Leave the device in the hat overnight, then try it on the next day. If it fits, you are good to go.

If it still needs to be stretched, you can repeat the process.

A hat stretcher works best. But if you don't have one, you can also stretch your hat over your knee by pulling it firmly. This method works particularly well on cotton baseball caps.

Related: Best Leather Cleaners: Clean, Condition & Maintain Your Hats

Try a Soccer Ball

A youth-sized soccer ball can also be a great mold for stretching a hat. You might want to begin by steaming the hat per the directions above. 

Then, simply place the hat on the ball and leave it overnight. The next morning, try it on. You can repeat it if you need to stretch it further.

The goal is for the hat to come off the ball easily. However, it shouldn't be too loose. It should bounce back a bit smaller once removed from the hat.

This method is less precise, and harder to determine exactly how much it will stretch the hat. We don't recommend this for formal or more expensive hats.

Enjoy Your Perfectly Sized Hat 

When you wear a hat, you want it to be snug but not constricting. This will keep it on your head without being uncomfortable. While it can be difficult to get the right fit, a few simple steps can make it much easier to stretch your hat out. Try the different methods and find out which way gets the best fit for you.

A hat stretcher is the easiest and safest way to stretch your hat. Check out our 4-way hat stretcher that gently eases all sides of your hat!

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