How To Stretch Shoes

Remember when I blogged about the (cute) shoes that were killing my feet?

Well, I’m happy to report that my Rocket Dogs aren’t barkin’ anymore!

A whole bunch of friendly folks left comments on that post about using frozen bags of water to stretch them, and it totally worked! Woo hoo! A sweet gal named Margitta sent a link to this instructional video which was super helpful too…

I followed Michelle Phan’s video instructions to a T, and enjoyed wearing my newly-comfortable kicks all day yesterday! I’m talkin’ FOUR different flea markets worth of walkin’, baby!

The only problem I have with my shoes now is that they’re not the right color.

Here’s what they looked like on the Rocket Dog website I ordered them from…

Kind of a camel-colored corduroy, right? Well, as you can tell from my photo at the beginning of this post, they actually look more light beige than camel-colored in real life. Boo- but not the end of the world. Now, however, they’re a dirty beige color. Boo! See, when I took them out of the freezer to let the ice bags thaw, I accidentally left them in the sink for a few hours, versus the 20 minutes Michelle suggested in her video. Oops.

I stuck wads of plain white paper towels inside each of them to try and soak up some of the moisture, but when I pulled the paper towels out, they had black stuff all over them, and now my shoes have darkened because I guess the black stuff soaked into the fabric or something. ?

I washed them in the washing machine to see if that would help, but it didn’t seem to make a difference.

I wore them out flea-marketing yesterday because I was so excited that they were comfortable, but I’d really like them to look a little…cleaner. (Especially that left one- grrrr.)

So my next question for you, shoe-fixing-aficionado, is: can I/should I dye them a different color?


The girl with the newly-comfortable/newly-dirty beige-colored shoes. Especially the one on the left.

PS- We’re still seeking folks to join us in the Atlanta area for our pilot episode shoot! Click here for all the details!


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  1. says

    oh dear, you’re having some serious shoe issues! at this point what would it hurt to try to make them the colour you want…good luck! :)

    • Layla says

      That’s what I’m thinking…thanks for the vote of confidence, Leanne! 😀

  2. says

    I agree with Leanne! Change the color for sure! This is one pair of shoes you’ll never forget! Hope they’ll be perfect soon! Who knew you could makeover shoes in so many ways!

  3. says

    Great tip! Bummer that they became discolored. :( Maybe try dyeing them?? Knowing me, I’d get the dye all over the soles too. I recently stuffed a pair of tennis shoes that my 3 yr old had worn once (!) with newspaper and left them for a couple of days. They stretched out! Did the same thing with a pair of Mary Janes for my 5 yr old. I just made sure the newspaper was tightly packed in.

  4. says

    You might throw them in the washer again with some oxy-clean to see if it will get that “dirty” off of there before you try to dye them. Oxy works best in hot water, but I’ve used it successfully in cold and swear by it at my house to get out most any dirt or stains my family throws at me! I love the shoes – I might have to try a pair. Cute and comfortable casual shoes are so hard to find…. and I’m not really a nike or new balance kind of gal… Good luck with whatever you try!

    • Layla says

      Sweet! Thanks Ellen…I’m going to go out and buy some TODAY!!!!!!!!! 😀

      • Tammy says

        Careful using oxyclean on plastic/rubber. Used it on bathroom rugs years ago, they came clean but the rubber backing broke down and fell off. Still love oxyclean just not on anything rubber, plastic…. You could sponge it on the fabric, just don’t soak.

        • Layla says

          Thanks Tammy! It doesn’t look like there is any rubber or plastic on these shoes- so here’s to hoping we’re in good shape to Oxyclean ’em! 😀

          • Kar in Colorado says

            And then try air-drying them in the sun to lighten them up even more!

  5. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    This was a terrific video – how sleek!!!! I have a pair of Clark’s that “bite”. I’m going to give this a try!!!! Such excitement!!!!!
    Layla – wear your shoes in good health. They look a little broken in now.
    In Florida, we laugh at people with brand new white tennis shoes! :-)
    It tells us they are a tourist. Let your little shoes live on, as they are, they show to the world you are a busy, well traveled girl. That’s what you are, right? Love and kisses from Florida. P.S. I love BOTH pair of the new shoes you bought!

    • Layla says

      Thank you Ter’e! I’m gonna give ’em a whirl in the washer with some Oxyclean and see what happens- but maybe I won’t have to dye them after all! :-)
      Good luck with your Clark-stretchin’ experiment! 😀

      • KK says

        A word of caution that they make shrink again after washing. I suggest trying to stuff them with craft wrapping paper or tissue paper or even old white wash cloths while drying to maintain the “new” shape since newsprint may stain if the item is wet. Good luck!

        • Layla says

          Hey KK! I’ve already washed them once, and they didn’t shrink, but thank you for mentioning that! The dryer is definitely off limits! 😀 Ooh! And I kept the handy dandy shoe forms that came with the shoes when I got them, and those have been super helpful too. Gotta get some more of those suckers! 😀

  6. Toni Weingartner Vladimirova says

    Layla! Stop worrying! We wear our shoes on our feet, therefore, they get scuffed, worn, and plain ol’ dusty. No one will notice. Remember, you chose a shoe style that looks worn in already. You are safe. The neutral color goes with EVERYTHING so just relax and go with it. The best part is, they are comfortable now!

    • Layla says

      Hey Toni! :-)
      It’s hard to tell by the photo, but they really do look VERY dirty/yucky in real life. Not diggin’ em…but I’m gonna give Ellen’s Oxyclean suggestion a whirl and see what happens! 😀

  7. Laura says

    When your shoe dyeing experiment turns out cute and funky-fun, then you can also add fashion guru to your title!

  8. says

    Before I even finished reading this I grabbed two pair of shoes that I love but HURT and they are in the freezer right now!!! Love this, can’t wait to try them out. :)

  9. says

    I say dye them…dilute some Rit dye and paint with a sponge brush. I’m not sure if it would work, but hey, what do you have to lose at this point.

  10. Karen U says

    Hi Layla,
    Love the shoes! Too bad about the staining.
    Maybe after you oxy clean them, you could stain them with some strong coffee or tea. That way, there won’t be any worries about dye staining your feet on a hot day.
    Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to hit a few extra sales with the caffeine pick me up 😉
    Good luck with whatever you try!

  11. says

    Ask yourself “Which shoe’s color do I like better? The left one or the right one?” If you like the lighter one, try a little oxygen bleach to lighten both shoes. If you like the darker color better, then try to “stain” the other one with the newspapers again. They say most newspapers today use soy ink which isn’t supposed to “bleed”…but I think it still does in some conditions. Or get wild and crazy and give them a whole new look with Rit dye to any color your heart desires! They certainly do look comfy and thanks for the video for stretching shoes!

    • Layla says

      Hey Connie! :-)
      I actually haven’t used any newspaper…I used plain white paper towels to soak up the water inside them.
      I think I’m going to try to Oxclean them…but the Rit dye might just be my backup solution! 😀

  12. Rosemary says

    oh thank you for that tip! I have a darling pair of shoes similar to yours that i’m going to try that on! Wish me luck!

  13. Amy says

    You may want to consider asking a shoe repair place if they will dye them for you. After all you have been through, I’d be afraid to mess them up and they’d be ruined.

  14. Bev says

    Great idea ! Layla if you didn’t like the color why didn’t you send them back. It seems like alot of work for something you were not happy with !! Just wondering .

    • Layla says

      Oh, just because I didn’t mind it enough to send them back. It wasn’t exactly how I envisioned them looking, but it wasn’t the end of the world. :-)
      Now they’re closer to the-end-of-the-world color. LOL! 😀

  15. mary says

    Your rocket dogs have been through so much in the past couple of days; maybe you should spill iced tea on them next !????

  16. Hayley says

    I’d wash them in OxyClean, or you could just cover them in Spray’n’Wash like I do. Throw them in the washer (with a bunch of towels to muffle the banging and help clean them) and stuff them with hand towels as they dry. After 4 hours or so, take the towels out and replace them with dry ones.
    For dyeing, I’d use tea. I used a tea bag to dye a lamp shade once and it turned out awesome! Get your shoe a little damp and soak the tea bag and some hot water for a few minutes. Then I just held the tea bag and rubbed it on the fabric. Make sure you hurry, because you don’t want the tea to “dry” before you come back around to the other side or else it will make a colored line where you overlap. Kinda like staining! Good Luck!

  17. Amy-Beth says

    I know this isn’t funny, but it made me laugh…AND I feel like I have a kindred spirit in the “How does this crazy stuff happen to me?!” world in which I live.

  18. says

    There is this new thing called a color grabber you throw in the wash. It kind of looks like a dryer sheet. I have a friend who turned all her clothes pink (ya know the old red sock trick). Well anyway one of those in the wash saved them buying a new wardrobe. Sorry I can’t remember who makes them.

  19. Tawnya Hood says

    Why not try to dye them with tea bags- that might give you the camel color you were hoping for!!

  20. SheilaG says

    rit dye also has a color remover for when colors bleed in the wash. Haven’t tried it myself, but might be worth a shot.

  21. says

    I vote trying a dye, Coffee or Tea dying my do the trick if not, do RIT dye..

    Funny 1 shoe discolored DIY story…I bought a gallon of mistinted paint $5 but it was a beautiful Robin’s Egg Blue….I had them open & show me the color but when the Lowe’s guys put the lid back on they didn’t secure it…drove to pick up my boys from daycare…opened the van door to put them in & the gallon of paint fell over & lost it’s lid and dumped all over my right flip flop & foot of course not to mention the parking lot…I loved those Walmart flip-flops not too heavy pretty-dressy, comfy…so I wiped as much paint off and kept wearing them…the blue color was kind of cool peaking out from under my toes & it kind of match the Capiz-Shell covering the T-strap…but looked all distressed kind of washed :)

    Hope your new kicks work out in the next dye process.


  22. Kelly says

    You can also put shoes that are stinky (no water required) in the freezer. The freezing temp. kills the bacteria that causes the shoes to be smelly. I do this all the time to my husband’s running shoes.

  23. says

    Wow, I’m loving that frozen bag stretch your shoes video, Thank you for that!!

    I hope the oxiclean project works out.. can’t wait to see how it pans out. It’s annoying expecting one color and getting another, happens with leather watch straps sometimes too, it’s a big drat when it happens.. Thank goodness your toes aren’t in cramped quarters anymore though.

  24. Grace says

    If you plan on dyieng them anyway…why not throw them in the machine with some bleach! Should brighten right up. That’s what I do with my old school keds and they come out lookin like new! Good Luck!

  25. Breann says

    You could try washing them again with a few Shout Color Catchers. They soak up any dyes when you wash things in the machine. I use them all the time with clothes so they won’t bleed on each other and to take bled colors out, so it might work with your shoes?!

  26. Rhiana says

    I don’t know if you have dyed shoes before but the dye inevitably ends up on your feet, especially when worn barefoot and your feet sweat. Dying with teabags might work since it is natural and not a synthetic dye. Good luck, I hope everything works out for you and your shoes!

  27. says

    If the OxyClean doesn’t work (never has for me – bummer) my sister in law swears by Biz, found in the laundry section, its a powder; she takes a bit of that mixes with her liquid soap to create a paste, and they lets sit for a while….She’s says it gets out all the stains my 13 yr old nephew gets on all his clothes. Might be worth a try! Good luck!

    P.S. Love you and Kevin, cant wait to see the show!!

  28. Sylvia says

    I have never dyed shoes, so I have no advice about that. However, I do want to tell you that you and Kevin are the cutest things around. I love your humor and your upbeat personalities. There is just one thing Layla…. since you are married to a very handsome, rock and roll, slow talking Southern man and you are living in the deep South aka God’s Country, you really should consider dropping the whole “gal” thing. It is a dead give away that “you aren’t from around here, are you”. :-)

    • Layla says

      No way Jose! I love my gals! Besides, what’s that they say- you can take the gal out of Minnesota…. 😉

  29. judy h. says

    Maybe you can dye them with Rit dye and a foam brush. You’d probably find out how to do it on their website. My daughter dyed s fabric purse with Rit dye because she wanted something more colorful; it turned out very beautiful and quite professional looking.

  30. says

    Layla, I really like those shoes dirty or not so I’d probably like them in any color! I did NOT know about this shoe stretching stuff. It is amazing what you learn in blogland. Apparently I’ve been living in a cave. It seems I need to call my sister & ask for the almost new red flats back that I gave her 6 months ago. If I had only known I could stretch them.

  31. Maggie says

    Hi Layla,
    I was shoes all the time but they do deteriorate so you don’t want to do it too often.
    If you want to dye them, I would spray them with a tea or coffee solution. I can’t suggest the Colour they would come out – it would depend on the strength you made up. You could test the solution on some similar fabric first.
    Have fun!


  32. Nancy says

    My vote is for the Rit Color Remover. If that doesn’t work, I would try to tea them by putting about 10 tea bags in a sink or small tub and fill with boiling water or the hottest water from the tap. (The hotter the water the more intense the dye bath.) Let cool a bit and then soak your shoes. Orange Pekoe tea (reg. old tea bags – a cheap brand is fine) gives you a beige with a pinkish tone. Green tea tends to be yellowish, but you can experiment. I would be hesitant to use Rit dye for fear that sweaty feet or getting caught in the rain could cause the dye to run and then you will have the challenge of how to get the color off of your feet! Be sure to let us know how it turns out.

  33. says

    i’m in the “dye with tea” camp! anything else runs the risk of your feet turning colors on hot & sweaty days, plus the cool shade of brown one can achieve with simple tea bags is fabulous.
    regardless of what we suggest, i hope you provide a follow up!
    good luck.

    • Layla says

      I’m going to try Oxycleaning them first…hopefully that’ll do the trick and I can just start enjoying them! 😀

  34. LynnR says

    I agree with RIT COLOR REMOVER. If you dye them, the only way to get a matching pair is to start with them the same “noncolor” unless you are goint super dark. Then, yes, do a brush on of rit liquid dye to get color you will like… Good luck!

  35. Laurel says

    Get out the Oxy – the gel stuff in particular is really amazing! I cleaned a cream-coloured sofa that had seen too many years of teenagers and dogs – it’s almost like new.
    Remember that if you dye them the cotton may accept it but the elastic won’t.
    Good luck.

  36. says

    Oh no I told you to soak newspaper (not to wet) it would have been a slower release of moister :( Mind you the colour is still nice hope you get to enjoy them now!! They do look sooo comfy :))

  37. Beverly Palmer says

    Layla, you are cracking me up with your shoe problems!!! Not that it is funny for you however and we do sympathize with you. But I think we’ve all been there with something that we really liked turned out bad/worse the more we mess with it and so on and so on. Honey, your living the shoe nightmare!

  38. says

    You remind me of my sister in law… she has shoes that are fifteen years old and she keeps them perfect because its one of those things for her that is important. She just keeps wearing them…

    I, on the other hand, have four pairs of dollar flip flops with paint spots on them that go on my feet when they are nearest to me as I fly out the door.

    I say call the website and complain. You didn’t get what you bought, whodoes business this way? Try to get your money back and try again.

  39. says

    THANK YOU for posting this video!!!!!!!! Curses to my too-wide feet because I usually end up buying pumps that slide right out the back as I walk => so my jeans usually end up IN my shoes or I look like a total fool who cannot walk in heels!

  40. says

    I have to be honest here, every pair of rocket dogs I have owned have hurt my feet, my sister too. I never tried the stretching thing though.

  41. ursula ann says

    .. yup, you should, just like I should custom-decorate my oh-so-white kitchenaid mixer 😀

  42. Adri says

    I love this idea! Thanks for posting it. Do you know if this stretching method works on boots?

  43. says

    OMG! This is genius! How have I never thought of it before!

    Layla – I LOVE your blog! This is my first time here! The layout and web design is gorgeous, the content, even more so. Also, I LOVE Rocket Dogs, but they NEVER fit me! Always too big, or too small. I’m SO trying this ice trick!


  44. ethel says

    a long time ago someone told me that back in time in the south, there was amethod of stretching shoes with dry beans, and a brown bag ,or paper??–has anyone ever heard the old timers talking about this? thanks