How to Stretch Leather Bags: 5 Easy Techniques

Leather bags make me feel chic and classy as I go about my day. While this fashion piece sits pretty as I hold it or sling it across my body, it adds style to my overall outfit. But often, it’s almost impossible to fit my luggage into any new leather bag.

While this difficulty gradually disappears as I use the bag, I have found a lot of reliable techniques about “how to stretch leather bags.” These techniques open up tight leather bags and increase their durability.

Are you wondering how to stretch leather purses and bags? You will find the most effective techniques to stretch leather fabrics in this comprehensive guide.

how to stretch leather bag handles

5 Ways of Stretching Leather Bags

Stretching tight leather bags is the best way to break them in and make them more accessible. All techniques in this guide are highly effective and are used by even professional leather stretchers. Here are five ways you can stretch leather bags without damaging them.

Stuffing the Bag to Stretch it out

Stuffing leather accessories is very common with lots of fashion enthusiasts. You can stretch leather wallets, boots, and purses to make them bigger. Leather bags are not an exception. You can stuff tight leather bags with newspaper, clothes, or pillows to open them up.

For this, you would need a sizeable pillow or multiple stiff pillows. Then, follow the instruction below.

  • Start by emptying the bag of all its contents.
  • Now, stuff the pillow into the bag. If you are using a single pillow, it should be about 1-4 inches larger than the bag. Stuff as many pillows as possible into the bag. Ensure they fit into every corner of the bag and have no loose edges.
  • Zip up the bag if you can. If the bag is so complete that it hinders the zipper from closing up, do not force it – leave it that way.
  • Leave the bag with the stuffing inside to sit in your wardrobe for 1-3 days. This allows the material to adjust to the size of the stuffing.

If you do not have enough pillows to stuff the bag fully, you could line up the bag’s interior with some clothes before inserting the pillows. Alternatively, you could use newspapers if you can’t find suitable pillows.

You can leave your leather bags stuffed for three months if you do not need to use them urgently. Besides opening up tight bags, this stretching technique is an excellent way to prevent wrinkles and keep leather bags moisture-free.

Using a Stretching Spray

There are lots of stretching sprays that work perfectly on a wide range of leather accessories. Leather stretch sprays are great for stretching leather jackets, boots, and even bags without ruining them.

These sprays show instant results by relaxing the leather fibers and making them soft and malleable. Kindly get a good leather stretching spray, clean microfiber cloth, pillows/clothes/newspaper to get started.

Here’s how to use a leather stretch spray.

  • First, empty and remove dirt and stains from leather bags. This way, you get rid of foreign material that might interfere with the action of the stretching spray.
  • Stuff the bag with either pillows, clothes, or newspaper. You could also combine stuffing if you do not have enough of any. Just ensure that the bag is filled up and sturdy. Zip the bag if possible. But do not force it.
  • Now, apply the stretching spray over the entire surface of the bag. Shake the spray can vigorously before applying it. Also, ensure you go over every inch of the bag several times.
  • Massage the spray into the pores of the leather using a microfiber cloth. Use gentle circular motions to ensure that you work the leather thoroughly.
  • Try to stuff more bits of newspaper into the bag as the stretching spray works on the leather.
  • Finally, leave the stuffed bag to dry. This stage should take about 1-3 hours.

You may repeat the process many times until you are satisfied with the results. Instead of pillows, you could use a sizeable spherical item such as a ball to stuff the bag. Line the bag’s interior with clothes or bits of newspaper before placing the ball inside. Add more cloth or newspaper to make the bag sturdy before applying the stretch spray.

Stretching the Bag with Alcohol

Using rubbing alcohol to stretch your leather bag is a bold leap. Depending on the size of the leather bag and the type of leather, you may need as much as two gallons of alcohol to get your desired result. Like the stretching spray, alcohol will loosen up leather and make it easier to stretch. This method is also ideal to stretch leather skirts and jackets.

You’ll need supplies for this task: A sizeable bucket or bath, rubbing alcohol, water, a mixing stick, weights or any heavy objects, and a leather conditioner. Once you’ve gathered these supplies, kindly follow the steps below.

  • Start by emptying the bag and cleaning the surface thoroughly. This way, you avoid leaving stain marks on the bag afterward.
  • Mix the rubbing alcohol and the water inside the bucket using a 1:1 ratio. To ensure the correct mix ratio, fill one-third of the bucket with rubbing alcohol before adding water until the bucket is two-thirds full.
  • Turn the mixture thoroughly with the stick to ensure it is adequately mixed.
  • Submerge the bag in this mixture for about 15-45 seconds. Use the mixing stick to ensure that every part of the bag gets under the mixture.
  • Now, hold the bag out of the mixture over the bucket to allow excess water to drip off.
  • Hand the bag straps over a suspended pivot and put in the weights. This heavy object will weigh down the bag and cause it to stretch.
  • Leave the bag to dry in this suspended position. This stage might take 10-12 hours before the bag completely dries. If it still feels damp, you could use a blow dryer to dry the bag’s insides completely.
  • Finally, condition the leather to restore its luster.

Using a “strong” alcoholic mixture could lighten leather colors and ruin the dyes of the leather and other components of the bag. Therefore, you must use the correct ratio of the alcohol-moisture mixture.

Also, consider the thickness and strength of the straps as you insert weights into the bag while it remains suspended. The weights in the bag and the pull of gravity come in handy if you are wondering how to stretch leather straps or belts.

Stretching the Bag by Freezing

The expansion and contraction of water are beneficial for stretching a wide variety of leather pieces. Therefore, you can stretch tight leather bags by freezing and thawing them. For this purpose, you would need some water, two large plastic bags, and a leather conditioner.

To get this task done, kindly follow these instructions.

  • Start by emptying the bag and cleaning it.
  • Next, fill up one plastic bag with water and seal it perfectly. Ensure enough water is in the bag to fill out the bag evenly. Also, leave some air space in the bag for expansion.
  • Place this plastic bag inside your leather bag.
  • Now, place both bags into the other plastic bag and seal it; you could even use a vacuum seal if possible.
  • Put the bags inside the freezer and leave them to freeze completely for about 6-8 hours.
  • When the bags are frozen, remove them from your freezer and let them thaw at room temperature.
  • Finally, allow the bag to dry before applying the leather conditioner to seal up the pores on the hand and restore its shine.

Freezing tight leather bags is very easy and will loosen them up. You could even freeze your leather bag overnight. However, this method is preferable if you wish to use the bag immediately. So, consider this freezing technique to stretch leather bracelets and straps.

Stretching the Bag with a Hair Dryer

You might be wondering, “does leather stretch with heat?” Yes, it does. When heat penetrates the pores on the surface of leather accessories, it causes the material to relax and stretch. Therefore, exposing your leather bag to a hair dryer effectively stretches the material and loosens it up.

You should get a hand-held dryer, leather conditioner, and pillows/newspaper/cloths for this method. Be careful; excessive heat could char your favorite leather bag and leave it permanently damaged. To remain safe,  you can follow the steps below.

  • First, stuff the bag full of clothes, pillows, or newspapers.
  • Please turn on the hair dryer and set it to medium. Hold it at a safe distance of about 4 inches from the leather bag and gently move it over its surface in soft circular motions. Keep the dryer over a particular area for at most ten seconds.
  • Work more stuffing into the bag as you feel the leather soften.
  • Leave the stuffed bag to cool.
  • Finally, condition the leather to prevent it from shrinking and becoming brittle.

how to stretch leather bag handle

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: Will a tight leather bag stretch?

A tight leather bag will gradually stretch and loosen up with continuous use. You could even stuff the bag with bits of newspaper and old clothes to stretch it further. The fibers of real leather will absorb natural moisture and lubrication from your skin.

These two qualities will soften the material and cause it to stretch and adjust its shape. Also, carrying items inside the bag causes the leather bag to stretch. This way, it accommodates the pressure without breaking.

Q: How long do leather bags take to stretch?

Stretching leather bags could take between a few hours and some days. The duration it would take to stretch the bag depends on the leather bag size, the leather type, and the stretching technique you employ.

The proper stretching technique will deliver the desired results within a few days. However, you may need to stretch leather bags several times and combine different techniques before you get the right size.

Q: How do you stretch a bag that is too small?

You can use several methods to stretch a bag that is too small. A combination of pressure and moisturizers will make it easier for small leather bags to loosen up. You could stuff the bag with a pillow or old clothes.

Applying a conditioner or stretching spray will soften the bag and make this method more effective. Alternatively, you could loosen the seams of the leather bag and increase its size. However, this adjustment requires utmost care to prevent ruining the bag’s appearance.

Q: Should a leather bag be tight-fitting?

Leather bags should be compact enough to hold the items you store inside without getting misshapen. However, it would help if you still had a bit of space in the bag to move your hand freely while arranging things in the bag or taking them out.

Bags that look too loose or slackened will make you look shabby and ruin the rest of your outfit. You may stuff your bags to make them feel compact but remain mindful of the seams and other fasteners on the bag.

Q: How do you make a tight bag bigger?

Many leather bags come with straps and buckles that you can easily adjust and make giant bags. But if these provisions are absent or inadequate, you can make a tight bag bigger by stretching it.

There are several effective techniques that you can use to stretch leather bags. These techniques are cheap and highly effective. However, you could also employ the services of a professional leather worker to loosen up the tight bag and get it into your desired fit.

Q: Is there a way to stretch out a bag?

Yes. There are several ways to stretch out a bag. However, the most common method involves stuffing the bags packed and leaving them that way for a few days. This method is gradual and requires a great deal of patience.

You could save the seams holding the bag with adequate care if you rush this process or try to overstuff the bag. You should condition the leather before stuffing the bag to get the best results. This way, you soften the material and prevent it from cracking. Alternatively, you could use a mixture of water and rubbing alcohol on the bag before stuffing it.

Final Words

Tight leather bags cause lots of trouble; besides making you need extra bags, they could also limit the number of items you need to move around with. While new leather bags gradually open up as you continue to carry them, you may need to stretch tight leather bags further to get that perfect fit you desire.

Are you wondering how to stretch leather bags? You can use any of the techniques in this guide to stretch your leather bag and make it more comfortable. While the tips in this article will serve effectively, you may need to repeat the stretching process several times before tight bags become as loose as you wish them.

Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

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