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Stretching A Leather Jacket?

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I run a site that mostly discusses leather jackets, but there are plenty of other topics. I am looking for the science behind leather shrinking, and what a realistic possibility of stretching leather back into shape would be. I do not want information that is copied and pasted from Google where someone says it can be done, but was hoping to get real life examples from the expert leather workers on this site.

I have personally worked with leather jackets for a number of years and have successfully shrunk leather jackets as much as a full size by soaking the leather, then applying heat. My findings are that the majority of the shrinkage occurs near the end of the drying process when the jacket goes from damp to really dry. I have seen little change occur in the "soaking wet" to "damp" stage.

I believe that leather shrinkage is due to the shrinkage of the leather fibers on a cellular level which occurs when the leather is dehydrated to such a degree that the fibers physically shrink. At this point, I believe they are 'set' and cannot be lengthened again without damage to the fibers. Maybe it is more accurate to say that I have not experienced any successful stretching techniques that have been permanent.

I also believe that there is some distortion to the leather as stretching leather after it has been shrunk or dried out, actually breaks some of the leather fibers allowing the leather to appear to have stretched. I have seen jackets develop pulls and thin areas from overzealous stretching.

Again, this topic pertains only to leather jackets, as we have members of our site who have shrunk their jackets accidentally and are looking to stretch them out again. People have put heavy items on the sleeve ends or loaded the arms up with soup cans to try to stretch the sleeves. The results were slight and temporary as the leather wants to revert back to the shrunken size.

I also believe that in the case of leather jackets, too many people confuse softening with stretching. A stiff jacket feels tight, and as it softens, it feels looser, so the assumption is that it stretched. Thoughts and opinions are very welcomed. I believe a jacket cannot be stretched back into shape and for the sake of some site members, I would like to be proven wrong.

Edited by Rick5150

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