Can a Cobbler Make Shoes Smaller? (Explore and Learn!)

We all have different types of foot shapes and sizes.  Wearing ill-fitting shoes, sneakers or boots can lead to several foot problems. One of the biggest problems faced by most people is finding shoes that fit their feet perfectly. This could be due to the brand not making shoes in all sizes and widths. People with too narrow feet or with low insteps often have bigger shoe size problems.

So, if you’re among those people and thinking of resorting to a cobbler who could adjust your shoes or sneakers size, you definitely have a question in mind: “can a cobbler make shoes smaller?” Yes, a good cobbler has different ways to make your shoes smaller by adding and adjusting some stuff like heel grips or insoles. But there’s no science to avail cobbler services to make the size of your shoes smaller. Depending on your desired fitting, you can do it yourself by using foam insole, heel grips, or tongue pad to adjust the fit. These techniques are only recommended if your shoes are ½ a size bigger.

If putting insoles or heel guards in the shoes make them a tad small or tight, you can take the help of a cobbler to stretch them a bit.

A good cobbler can definitely stretch the width of the pair of shoes. But if the shoes have become too tight after putting the insoles or tongue pads to make them smaller, the effort of stretching them too much can damage the leather of your shoes. That’s why I would highly advise you to try your best to find the shoes that fit properly as you may end up with blisters and other issues after making them smaller.

Can a Cobbler Make Strappy Sandals or Shoes Smaller?

Each sandal has different designs of straps. If you specifically talk about Chacos sandals, they have a unique design of straps. You can check out my article on Chacos sandals sizing, in which I’ve explained the procedure of adjusting the straps of Chacos sandals for a better fit.

For other types of strappy sandals or shoes, you might have to take the help of your cobbler. A cobbler can easily adjust the loose fit of strappy shoes and tighten them. If your sandal or heel has a single strap like a belt i.e. it consists of a buckle, you can also poke an extra hole, and it would fit better around your ankle. For multiple straps, your cobbler can cut any loose straps with a pair of scissors, secure the ends with a super-strength glue, and allow them to dry completely.

For more tips to fix loose sandals with open toes, you can check out this video.

If you want to apply these methods yourself, you can take help from your cobbler.

How to Tell If the Shoes or Boots are Too Big?

There are several ways to tell if shoes are too big for you by observing different aspects like how much pressure shoes exert on your arch and how much space there is between your toes and the shoe’s toe box. It starts with measuring the length of your foot. Place a cloth or sheet of paper on the floor and stand on it. Measure the length of your foot from heel to toe.

The type of socks pair you usually wear also determines the size of the shoe. If you wear thick athletic socks, the shoe size should be larger than your actual foot size. If you wear thin nylon socks, you would need a shoe size almost equal to your foot length. So, a general rule is that there should be a half to one inch of space between your foot and the shoe when you wear them.

 Next, turn the paper or cloth on its side and measure the width of your foot. A too-big shoe is usually wider than your foot that will cause blisters, and a too-narrow shoe will also pinch or squeeze your toes.

It may take buying several pairs until you can determine your correct size. The best way to check whether or not shoes are too big for your feet is to stand in front of a full-length mirror, examine them carefully from all angles, and do some walk around the house to determine your fit in the shoes.

How to Wear Shoes that are Too Big?

There are following strategies to wear shoes that are a half or a full size big for your feet..

1. Lacing Technique for Athletic Shoes

If you’ve athletic sneakers or sport shoes that are a bit loose, you should first analyze the lacing technique. There’s one eyelet on the running sneakers close to the tongue on the side that people often miss out. So, if you’re experiencing heel slippage issues in your running shoes, all you need to do is pass the laces through those eyelets and proceed on tightening them just like you would normally do.

You can also check out this video to better understand the lacing technique to make your athletic shoes tighter.

2. Use Heel Guards or Cushions

You can apply this method to all types of footwear, including dress shoes and running shoes. This method is usually used when you have too narrow heels, and they slip against the heel collar, due to which there is a risk of formation of blisters on your heel. To properly conceal the heel grips, you can take your shoes to the cobbler.

The cushion is usually made of foam, and it provides comfort to the wearer’s foot. It’s usually applied when you have too narrow heels, or you wear extremely high heels on which your foot tends to slip in case.

Heel grip is securely placed onto the back of your shoes to prevent heel slippage and avoid blisters formation. You can check different styles of heel guards on amazon to suit your needs.

3. Place Shoe Insert

Apart from preventing heel slippage, this method is also useful to fill out extra space between your foot instep and shoes upper. If you place an insert under the existing insole in the shoes, it would also prevent your feet from slipping forward. Inserts also provide necessary arch support to your feet, adjust the fit so that it could conform to your foot’s contour, and provide a comfortable experience while walking, standing, or running.

There are two types of shoe inserts:

  • Ball of Cushions (Half-length)
  • Full-length Inserts for Shoes

Ball of cushion is suitable for dress shoes, flats, heels, and sandals if there is a big gap between your foot instep and shoes upper. They also provide a grip and prevent the foot from moving forward and striking the toe while walking.

You can check out your favorite ball of cushions on amazon.

You can use full-length if the shoe is bigger from all sides i.e., heel, instep, and toe box. There are different types of insoles according to your needs. The soles are categorized in terms of cushioning, breathability and grip.

If you’ve loafers or flats for everyday wear, use these leather soles by pedag. Avoid using them in your heels as they’re slippery and could not fit in their place due to a sloppy heel surface. These are great for summer as they’re moisture-free and highly breathable.

To make your boots or big size of your running shoes smaller, you can try Dr. Scholl Gel insoles. They’re also great on high wedges/heels due to their grip and ability to relieve pain in the balls of foot. You can also place them in your casual shoes. Dr. Scholl insoles are thicker, so only use them in boots if there is a plenty of room in the toe box.

The downside of these Dr. Scholl insoles is that cutting through the gel to size is rough. Many customers have complained that Dr. Scholl’s inserts don’t fit correctly after cutting them to size. So, you might have to take help from a cobbler to cut the insoles true to size and adjust them properly on the bed of the shoe.

I also liked Superfeet insoles, made of foam to conform to your foot’s shape. They’ve a deep heel cup for excellent stability and arch support. You might have to do some minor trims to get them to size so that you could get a great fit and wonderful support.

4. Wearing Correct Pair of Socks

This method works great for sneakers if you don’t have support issues and your entire shoe is slightly bigger from all sides. In this condition, you can wear thin or thicker socks, depending on your fit, to avoid blisters as the socks will take up the extra room in the shoes and offer a glove-like fit. Also, keep in mind that the socks should be weather permitting, as you would not want your feet to be drenched in sweat in a hot summer.

5. Shrinking the Shoes with Water

This method sometimes works on leather shoes if the leather quality is pretty good. However, I’d not recommend trying out this technique on your new leather dress shoes. Instead, use heel guards, insoles, or tongue grips.

If you still want to apply this technique, follow these steps.

  • Fill the bucket with lukewarm water
  • Submerge your leather shoes in the water, and leave them in water for an hour.
  • Take the pair of socks that is well-fitted to your feet and saturate it with the water.
  • Wear that wet socks and put on your shoes (the socks will provide protection against the tightening of leather due to water).
  • Wear them all day till the socks get dry and the leather of shoes shrinks to the shape of your feet.

I know this method sounds a bit cringing, but believe me, this method works. You don’t have to pay for inserts for shoes or heel grips if you apply this technique to leather boots or shoes.

Can a Cobbler Fix Shoes That Are Too Big?

If the shoes are too big, i.e., more than one size of your foot, there’s nothing a cobbler can do to fix such a big size. For instance, if you wear US7 and your shoes size comes out to be US9, it’s better to return them and get the pair of shoes with the correct size. If you couldn’t get the exact size, try to find a half or a maximum one size bigger shoes. Only in that condition, a cobbler could be able to make the shoes smaller.