How to Stretch a Fitted Hat

Danielle Jennings
Hat on ball

Men's dress and casual hats come in all shapes, sizes and styles. Whether your taste leans towards a trendy fedora, an athletic style, or a classic felt design, size is important for prolonged comfortable wear and fit. To ensure that your hat is as comfortable as possible, you might need to stretch it out a bit.

Directions for How to Stretch a Fitted Hat

If you have a hat that's just a tad bit too tight, you may wonder how to stretch a fitted hat. Hat stretching can work wonders providing the fabric content has resiliency and give. A cotton or a natural fiber hat is the easiest to stretch.

Ball Method

The following method can help you reshape and resize a hat:

  1. Wet the hat thoroughly with water.
  2. Place the hat around a youth sized soccer ball.
  3. Place the hat on ball in front of a heater (do not leave unattended) and allow to dry thoroughly.
  4. Once the hat is dry, it should slip off the ball with ease, and the shape and give should be restored.

Simple Stretch

Another simple way to make a tight hat a bit looser:

  1. Grab the hat firmly by the crown.
  2. Place the hat over the knee and pull firmly.
  3. Repeat if needed.

This works best for hats that are just slightly too tight and is a good method for baseball caps.

Method Using a Hat-Stretcher

In addition to the water/soccer ball method and simple pulling, you can also get a more relaxed fit by using a basic hat stretcher. Hat stretchers can be purchased from hat stores like Village Hats, or a retailer like Amazon.

Here's how to stretch a hat using the stretcher:

  1. Place the hat stretcher inside of your desired hat.
  2. Then you turn the middle section, which acts as a crank of sorts, until there is no give left at the end.
  3. Many hat stretchers have steam inside the band that absorbs the moisture from the inside of your hat. When you turn the crank your are releasing this steam.
  4. The combination of the steam and the cranking can allow certain hats to be stretched up to two full sizes.
  5. You can also store your stretcher inside your hat between wearings to ensure it maintains its natural shape.

Tips for Specialty Hats

Many vintage hats are smaller in size, yet their sharp and polished lines keep them in fashion demand. If you have your heart set on sporting a family heirloom, or have fallen in love with a unique hat you've found at a vintage shop, you may decide to take your hat to a millinery shop where a professional milliner can resize the hat if possible. Adding fabric or adornment to the hat and restructuring the shape may make a slim fitting hat a wearable piece.

Keep in mind not all hats are meant to be stretched. Fabrics such as silk, cashmere and suede should never get wet, so take great care before you decide to stretch these pieces.

Hats Off

With a little effort, a hat can usually be stretched just enough for comfortable wear. To prolong the shape and life of a hat, make sure you store it properly when not in use and avoid tossing it on the floor or in a pile. To prevent fading, keep hats out of the sun and the elements of wind and rain. Additionally, to keep them presentable, most hats can be spot cleaned as needed. Taking proper care of your hats is just one way to ensure their comfort and fit long-term.

How to Stretch a Fitted Hat