How to Stretch a Hat using an Inflatable Ball

Reader Contribution by Mary Ann Reese
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Hats off! That was my adage, but not anymore! Hats prevent UV rays from harming sensitive head and neck areas and can safeguard kids from the sun and wind as they have fun outside. But what if your favorite hat is too small?


While cleaning my closet of clothes no longer needed, I saw two garden hats on the upper shelf. I’ve had these hats for a while but got tired of pulling and squeezing them onto my head, so there they sat. I used to think I just need to put up with the squeezing, the headache, and the smashed hair. There’s got to be a better way.


While sharing my challenge with my husband, he suggested we stretch the hats somehow. After talking about possible solutions, we settled on one that seems to work nicely. It takes time and it’s not possible to stretch all hats, but I’m thrilled to be able to wear hats again.


Can Your Hat Be Wet?


Grab the hat you need to stretch and figure out what components or fabric forms your hat. Determine if these materials can be submersed in water without damaging the hat. That means it needs to be colorfast, with colors that cannot fade or be washed out, so you don’t end up with a runny mess of dye ruining the hat forever.


If your hat can be soaked in water in a large washtub or bucket for 30 minutes, this remedy may be just what you’ve been looking for.




With enough cool water in a tub or bathtub to cover your hat, soak your hat for 30 minutes. This will prepare the fibers to enable them to stretch.


Remove the hat from the water and position on a flat surface with a towel to absorb any excess water.


Determine the Desired Size


Measure around the widest part of your head and decide if you want your hat to fit snug on your head or a bit loose.


Locate an inflatable sports ball as close to your desired circumference as possible. We discovered a volley ball is just a touch larger around than the circumference of my head. So, a volley ball works perfect for my hats.


You’ll also need an air-pump, a bicycle-pump works well, and pump-needle for this project.


Inflate the Ball


Place the ball on a table or other firm surface. Without the pump attached, put the pump needle into the ball to deflate it.


Making sure the valve on the ball is facing out of the hat, deflate the ball enough to slide the ball into the hat so it touches inside to the top of the hat. Attach the pump to the pump needle and begin inflating the ball.


Carefully inflate the ball until it is very firm and visibly stretching the hat. Remove the pump with pump needle. Store your hat, with the inflated ball inside, in a warm area to dry for a week. (Your hat needs to be thoroughly dry before you remove the ball or all these stretching efforts will fail.)


After a week, when your hat is completely dry, insert the pump needle, without the pump, into the valve to let enough air out of the ball to easily remove the ball from the hat. Try on the newly stretched hat and be delighted!

Mary Ann Reeseis a certified mentor in designing, building, and operating food bank farms. She has also been certified to teach cooking classes to low-income families. As an organic grower, Mary has owned a mini-farm, greenhouse, chickens, ducks, and geese raised from eggs in an incubator and is happy to share years of wiser living advice with her readers.

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