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How To Stretch Cowboy Hat

How to Stretch a Cowboy Hat – To Make It Fit Better

Has your favorite cowboy hat gone out of shape or shrunk too much, causing you a headache? Before anything, we should appreciate you for searching on how to stretch your cowboy hat without coughing up a few bucks on hat professionals to stretch your hat or on buying a new hat. We feel you; maintaining a cowboy hat in the same shape for a lifetime is impractical. But no more from today! Now, we’re going to guide you through the whole process of how to stretch your cowboy hat and maintain its shape for generations!

Can You Stretch a Cowboy Hat?

Yes, until your cowboy hat is made up of fabrics, you can stretch your cowboy hat. If your cowboy hat is made up of fur-based felt or wool, you can stretch them by steaming. If your cowboy hat is made up of leather, you can make the size bigger by using a hat stretcher.

We don’t recommend steaming for leather cowboy hats since they can rip off the leather and cause deterioration. If your cowboy hat is made up of straw, you can loosen their straw fibers by soaking and steaming for a few seconds and reshape them.

What to Know Before Stretching a Cowboy Hat?

1. Check Your Care Label

Do not avoid reading the tiny label stitched with the inner brim of your hat. Care labels are there for a reason.  Even if you are not sure about your hat, the care label gives a lot of information on the material of your hat, how you should wash and shouldn’t wash your hat.

2. Don’t Steam Leather Hats

If you have a leather cowboy hat, make sure you don’t use the steaming method to stretch it. Leather cowboy hats can be stretched by using a hat stretcher or the traditional knee method.  Steaming or soaking them with water can lead to damage.

If your hat is made up of synthetic fabrics and has a leather sweatband or hatband around it, it’s better to remove it. Or else, use a towel to wipe them frequently during steaming without letting them absorb moisture.

3. Do Not Overstretch

During the process, do not take extra efforts to stretch your hat beyond an extent since they can lead to tearing and damage. Especially when you’re using a hat stretcher, be mindful of how much you stretch.

Try them in between to check the size. When you can leave one finger in between the hat and your head, this signifies that you’re wearing the right fit.

4. Do Not Dry Them in Sunlight

After steaming or wetting them, do not dry them under direct sunlight. Not cowboy hats but any type of hats can fade or shrink when you dry them in direct sunlight.

Wearing them on a hat form, a bowl, or a ball, in a dry, cool environment is the best way to dry a hat.

How to Stretch a Cowboy Hat

Stretch Your Cowboy Hat By Steaming

Stretch Your Cowboy Hat By Steaming

Steaming your hat helps loosen the fibers while exposed to the heat and moisture during the process. MAKE SURE you wipe the sweatband of your hat if it is made up of leather. Or else, try reducing the exposure of steam to areas made up of leather.

Works for:

fur based felt, wool, polyester, straw cowboy hats

Don’t work for leather cowboy hats

Materials Needed:


Step 1: Heat Water in The Tea Kettle

Start heating water in the tea kettle. The larger the spout, the better it is to steam your hat. After noticing steam, reduce the heat, and maintain the steam at a steady temperature.

Step 2: Expose Your Hat to the Steam

Expose your hat before the steam,  and pay more attention to the back of your hat.  Use kitchen tongs to grab your hat if it’s too hot.

Maintain a distance of 5-6 inches away from the kettle when you’re steaming your hat. Also, please don’t over steam your hat since it will cause difficulty to reshape.

Step 3: Use a Hatform

After steaming, gently reshape the creases and dents, stretch your hat gently using your fingers. Then, let it dry on a hat form. You can also wear your cowboy hat on top of a plastic bag on your head for the hat to adjust to your head size.

Stretch Your Cowboy Hat By Using a Hat Stretcher

Stretch Your Cowboy Hat By Using a Hat Stretcher

If you’re really serious about making your cowboy hat one size bigger, you can go with the cowboy hat stretcher. The cowboy hat stretcher helps to stretch your hat evenly and effectively.

Works for:

fur based felt, wool, polyester, straw cowboy hats,  leather hats( skip steaming)

Materials Needed:


Step 1: Heat Water in the Cooking Pot

Firstly, start heating water in the cooking pot. Close the lid with a little opening. You can also use a tea kettle.

Step 2: Fix the Hat Stretcher Into The Inner Crown

In the meantime, fix the hat stretcher into the inner crown of the cowboy hat. While fixing it, make sure it’s not too tight and not slanting. The center of the hat panel should be parallel to the crown of your hat. Tight the handle to fit snugly.

Step 3: Expose Your Hat to The Steam

Thirdly, expose your hat to the steam. Steaming helps to loosen the fibers. Here, you don’t need to wipe your leather sweatbands since the wood absorbs moisture. Skip this step if you have a leather hat. 

Step 4: Twist the Center Panel

After steaming the hat, twist the center panel of your hat and stretch the hat. DO NOT stretch more than ¼”.

Step 5: Let the Hat Dry

Finally, let the hat dry with the hat stretcher in a hat form. Make sure the hat stretcher lies on the surface and not on top of the hat, which can cause a misshapen hat.

Stretch Your Cowboy Hat By Ball Method

Stretch Your Cowboy Hat By Ball Method

This is also an effective method without spending on a hat stretcher. All you have to do is, stuff your ball inside and inflate it to stretch your cowboy hat.

Works for:

fur based felt, wool, polyester, straw cowboy hats,  leather hats

Materials Needed:


Step 1:  Fix Your Ball Into the Inner Crown of Your Hat

Firstly, wrap your ball in a plastic bag to avoid the contact of dirt with your hat. Fix the ball into the inner crown with the inflation point accessible for you. No pressure there! If fixing is too difficult, deflate your ball and insert it again.

Step 2: Inflate Your Ball

Start inflating your ball. Ensure that you don’t inflate your ball too much, which can lead to overstretching.

Step 3: Let it Sit for Hours

Leave your hat with the ball inside it overnight for effective results.

Stretch Your Straw Cowboy Hat By Soaking

Stretch Your Straw Cowboy Hat By Soaking

Are you feeling the frequent tightening of your straw hat or hearing a crack sound when wearing it? This is a telltale sign that your straw hat needs moisture. Both steaming and soaking help your straw hat to get moisture and loosen. MAKE SURE to dry your hat completely before storing it since it can grow mold.

Materials Needed


Step 1: Fill the Tub With Lukewarm Water

Firstly, fill the tub with lukewarm water. ENSURE that it is not too hot, which can melt your straw fibers and not cold to grow mold.

Step 2: Soak Your Hat in The Tub

Secondly, soak your hat into the tub of water. Wait for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Do not over soak your hat.

Step 3: Fit Snug on a Hat Form

Take out and reshape the brims of the hat. Take a hatform that mimics the appearance of your head to fit snug and stretch. It can be a small bowl, a ball, or your own head. Wear a plastic bag before wearing the wet hat. After all, you’re in the comfort of your own house!

Can Any of the Methods Cause Damage to the Hat?

All the methods mentioned above are effective methods to stretch your hat. As mentioned earlier, do not steam if your hats are made up of leather. Check with the care label if you’re unsure about the material of your hat.

How to Maintain Your Cowboy Hat After Stretching?

After stretching your hat, maintaining the shape of your hat is important. Here are some best tips on how you can keep your cowboy hat in shape.

  • Use Hatforms

After usage, make sure you’re leaving your cowboy hat on a hat form. It can be a small bowl, ball, or anything that mimics the appearance of your head.

  • Proper Storage

You can also keep them in hat boxes and store them properly in your closet. If your hat is made up of natural fabrics, leave one naphthalene ball in your hat box to avoid the contact of fabric-eating bugs.

  • Clean Them Properly

Before every usage, make sure you’ve cleaned them properly. Handwashing is the best method to wash any type of hat. Avoid throwing them into the washing machines, which can lead to hat shrinkage due to the hot temperatures and increased agitation of your machine.

  • Wear them Frequently

Wearing them frequently helps your hat prevent shrinkage, especially if it is a leather hat. Mix and match them with whatever you love, and don’t let the hat forget its owner’s head.

How to Stretch a Cowboy Hat and Make it Fit Better

Final Thoughts

By now, you must have understood how to master the art of stretching your cowboy hats. Thank goodness you didn’t spend a penny for it. We have explained each method easier, how it works, and the type of cowboy hats suitable for each method. Now it’s your turn to go for the first step of your preferred method!

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