How to Stretch or Reshape a Cowboy Hat

Wearing the wrong sized hat can be an extremely frustrating experience. If it is too big, it may keep slipping off or getting into your way. On the other hand, if the hat is too small, it could actually start to pinch your head and cause headaches. Stretching your cowboy hat to fit your specific head shape and size can help you avoid all of those annoyances. You can do this right after you buy a cowboy hat or later on when it starts to get out of shape due to a variety of conditions such as sweat, humidity, and weather.

You have your hat, now you might be thinking “How do I stretch a cowboy hat?”. Below I have listed some different methods from spray stretching your hat, steaming your hat, specialized tools to stretch your cowboy hat and last but not least, using a soccer ball to stretch your cowboy hat.

Check the Size Before You Buy

The first step to stretching a cowboy hat so that it fits your head is actually being careful of what size hat you buy in the first place. If you buy a hat that is too big or way too tight, it will not matter much how much you stretch it; it will never comfortably fit your head. If you are buying a cowboy hat at a brick and mortar store, always try on the hat before you buy it.

A good way to tell whether the hat is the right size is by seeing if you can fit one finger between your head and the hat. If you can fit one finger, the hat is a good size for you. If you can fit more than one finger, that hat is probably too big for you. Finally, if you cannot easily fit any fingers, the hat is too small.

Remember, stretching a hat is more about getting it to fit to your specific head, not about changing the size all that much.

If you are buying a hat online, you may not be able to try it on before you make the purchase. If that is the case, just make sure that you measure your head before you make the purchase. Plus, many online hat shops will let you exchange the hat if you have any major sizing problems.

Different Methods For Stretching Or Reshaping Your Hat

( 1 ) Break It In

Breaking it in is probably the easiest option on this list but it does take the most time. When you wear a cowboy hat regularly, the material will naturally start to loosen and conform to your specific head. So, if you are not in any great hurry to have it stretched right away, just start wearing it all the time, and the stretch will happen naturally.

( 2 ) Spray and Stretch

If your hat is made out of a softer fabric, a great method for stretching it out (faster than just wearing it all the time) is by using a spray bottle and a blow-dryer. This method is really simple, and chances are, you already have all the things that you need in your house.


Step One: You want to start by filling your spray bottle with lukewarm water. It is important that the temperature is not too extreme in either direction, or it could damage your hat.

Step Two: Once you have the spray bottle full, you can spray your hat. You want to spray the inside and outside of the crown and the inside of the band. Do not worry about spraying the brim because you do not need to change its size. Also, you just want the hat damp, not sopping wet. If the hat gets too wet, there could be damage or bleeding.

Step Three: Now, you want to use the blow-dryer to dry the get the outside of the hat to the point where it is mostly dry. You can do this with the hair dryer set to the highest setting.

Step Four: When the hat is mostly dry, put it onto your head and keep it on until it drys. During the drying process, the hat will stretch and mold to the shape of your head.

( 3 ) Using Steam to Shape Your Hat

Another great way to stretch and shape your cowboy hat is to use steam because steam is really effective at loosening natural fibers. It also will work with a fairly wide variety of materials. All you need is a small pot of water and a blow-dryer, so once again, you probably already have everything that you need.

Hat Country - How Should A Cowboy Hat Fit


Step One: Fill your pot with water and set it on the stove. You want to heat the water until it starts to boil, at which point steam should be coming off the top. You can also use a tea kettle if you would prefer.

Step Two: Hold the hat so that it is angled with the interior about six inches away from the steam. Make sure you hold onto the hat tightly because you do not want it to drop into the boiling water. You will hold the hat there for about a minute. Make sure that the inside of the band is also thoroughly steamed.

Step Three: After about a minute, remove the hat from the steam for thirty seconds and then put it back. You will want to do this process (one minute on steam, thirty seconds off) at least four times before you move on to the next step.

Step Four: After you are done steaming the hat, turn on your blow-dryer (once again, you can use the highest setting) and blow dry your hat until it is mostly dry.

Step Five: When the hat is only slightly damp, put that hat on your head and wear it until it is completely dry.

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( 4 ) Use Hat Stretching Tools

Another option is to use tools that are specifically designed for hat stretching and shaping. This is really a good method if you need the hat to get slightly bigger rather than slightly smaller. There are lots of different tools out there, such as the hat-jack that can be used to expand the size of a hat and then maintain the size when you are not wearing it. You can just put the hat on these tools and then wait, but once again, steaming the hat can help make the process faster.


Step One: If you are steaming your hat first, follow the same process that you did in the previous method. Boil water in a pot or kettle, hold the hat above the steam (one minute on, thirty seconds off) for about four rounds.

Step Two: Once you have steamed the hat, place the hat onto the hat stretch device. Make sure that you have the hat stretcher lined up to the band and nowhere else to avoid damage. Crank it open until that hat taut. There should be instructions that came with your tool that will tell you exactly how to crank it open.

Step Three: Leave the hat on the stretching device overnight and try it on in the morning, repeating the process again and again if you find that it needs to be stretch further.

( 5 ) Use A Soccer Ball (or any type of ball of size and even a balloon)

If you are wanting to get your hat stretched to a slightly bigger size, another option is to use a soccer ball rather than buying a special tool. However, it is important to understand that while it will stretch out your hat, it is much less precise and predictable than a device specifically made for stretching a hat would be. Though you may already have a soccer ball at your home, and even if you do not, it will likely be cheaper to get one than a hat stretching tool. For this reason, you may find that you prefer to use a soccer ball over the specialized tools.

In the above video, he uses a balloon, no a soccer ball, but you get the point!


Step One: Once again, it is a good idea to wet the hat before you begin to stretch it. You can use either the spray or the steam methods described above. However, after you are done almost drying it with your blow-dryer, you will place it onto the youth-sized soccer ball rather than onto your head.

Step Two: Leave your hat on the soccer ball overnight and then try it on in the morning. If you think that it needs to be stretched more, repeat the process again (including the steaming or spraying). You can keep repeating the process until it fits how you want it to.

Note: If you are using the correct sized soccer ball, the hat should easily slip off and on the soccer ball, and when you take the hat off of the ball, it should bounce back to maintain its original shape even as the size changes. If you use a ball that is too big, you could damage your hat.

Now You Know How To Properly Stretch and or Reshape Your Cowboy Hat

Whether your hat has not fit quite right since you bought it or it has lost its shape for whatever reason, you can stretch your cowboy hat quite easily at home with any of the above methods. Nobody wants a cowboy hat that just falls off of their head or pinches to the point of headaches, and now you do not have to have one.

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