How to Shrink a Leather Jacket

Are you tired of wearing a leather jacket that’s just a little too loose for your liking? Maybe you inherited one from a friend or relative, but the fit of the leather jacket isn’t quite right. Or perhaps you lost some weight and your favorite jacket just feels too baggy.

Whatever the reason, the thought of shrinking a leather jacket may seem daunting but it’s not impossible.

In fact, with a little bit of know-how, some patience, and a bit of creativity, you might be able to achieve that perfect snug fit you’ve been dreaming of.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to shrink a leather jacket in a few different ways.

shrinking a leather jacket

Is shrinking a leather jacket possible?

Yes, shrinking a leather jacket is possible and it involves softening the leather and then drying it followed by applying heat and stretching it to the desired size. However, this is a challenging and potentially risky process that can cause your jacket to become misshapen if not done carefully.

How to shrink a leather jacket (4 Methods)

If your leather jacket is too big and you want to shrink it, you can try any of the following methods.

1. Warm water method

This is the easiest and the most popular technique for making a leather jacket smaller.

To use this method, you need to:

  • Submerge the leather jacket in lukewarm water and let it soak for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the jacket is soaked, gently squeeze out excess water
  • If you are not in a hurry to shrink the jacket, lay it flat on a towel or other absorbent surface and let it air dry. It may take a while for it to dry completely but wet leather shrinks gradually as it dries.
  • Alternatively, apply heat to the areas you want to shrink using a hairdryer on a low-heat setting while the jacket is still wet.

Tip 1:  Apply beeswax or water stain protectant to the leather jacket before shrinking to prevent staining and to ensure it shrinks evenly.

2. Steam method

Another popular method is to steam the leather jacket. You can do this by following these steps;

  • Use a leather jacket hanger to hang the jacket in a steamy bathroom or use a handheld steamer to apply steam to the areas of the jacket you want to shrink.
  • If using a steam cleaner, do it in small sections to ensure the jacket is well-steamed.
  • Once done, allow the jacket to air dry but avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or heat.
  • Steaming causes the fibers in the leather to contract which leads to shrinkage.
  • After the jacket dries, consider applying a suitable leather conditioner to keep the leather soft and prevent cracking.

Tip 2: When steaming, do not hold the steamer too close or in one spot for too long since this can damage the leather.

3. Dryer method

Although using the dryer is not recommended, with a bit of care, you can successfully shrink any leather item.

The first step is to wet the leather jacket without oversaturating it before putting it in the dryer using a low heat setting.

To prevent heat damage, remember to put the jacket in a laundry bag or pillow cover before placing it in the dryer. This will prevent wear and tear that may occur in the washing machine or dryer.

The combination of heat and moisture causes the leather fibers to contract and result in shrinkage.

4. Professional leather tailor method

While you might be tempted to make your jacket smaller by shrinking it a home, the best method is actually to consult a professional leather tailor.

In fact, it’s generally recommended to seek the help of a professional because it is a delicate process that requires expertise and specialized equipment.

Leather tailors have experience with different types of leather and know the best method to use for your specific jacket.

Also, they have access to specialized equipment that can help to safely and effectively shrink the jacket.

Thus, by consulting with a professional, your leather jacket will be altered properly to make it smaller and avoid any potential damage or mistakes that could be made if you tried to do it on your own.

Do leather jackets shrink over time?

Yes, leather jackets can shrink over time depending on how they are cared for and the type of leather they are made from. Factors such as exposure to moisture, heat, and humidity can cause the leather to shrink.

For instance, if a leather jacket becomes wet and is not properly dried, the leather can shrink and become stiff. On the other hand, if a leather jacket is exposed to high levels of heat or humidity, the natural oils in the leather might dry out and cause the fibers to shrink.

In addition, leather jackets made from natural, untreated leather may shrink slightly over time as the leather fibers contract and become tighter. However, the amount of shrinkage is typically minimal and may not be noticeable.

How much can a leather jacket shrink?

How much a leather jacket can shrink depends on a few factors, such as the type of leather it’s made from, the method used to shrink it, and the extent of the desired shrinkage.

Generally, it’s possible to shrink a leather jacket by up to one size or so, which could be around 1-2 inches in circumference depending on the area of the jacket that is being shrunk.

However, it’s important to note that over-shrinking a leather jacket can be challenging to reverse, and could potentially damage the leather.


To conclude, shrinking a leather jacket can be a tricky process, and it’s important to take the proper precautions to avoid damaging the leather.

Using methods such as water, steam, or dryer can be effective but it’s always best to consult a professional leather tailor for advice on the safest and most effective method to use for your specific jacket.

It’s also important to note that over-shrinking a leather jacket can be challenging to reverse and could potentially damage the material, so it’s best to approach the process with care and caution.

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