This Tuesday Shoesday I am attempting to solve an everyday boot storage problem – the need for boot stretchers. I recently got a pair of knee-high boots from Clarks and the leather is particularly soft so unless I store them flat in their box, they will be ruined. How? Well, the tops of the boots don’t stand upright and they flop over to the size, creating creases around the ankles. I want to keep them looking as good as possible for as long as possible so I wanted to support the tops of the boots with a stretcher. However, a quick look online made me realise just how much a pair of boot supports cost and put me right off! Ok, I know that £8 to keep my leather boots in good nick is probably a safe investment, but you know how thrifty I am and can imagine how quickly I turned off the computer and started thinking about an alternative solution.
There are plenty of options for keeping your boots supported out there if you’re willing to pay for them – traditional sprung stretchers, inflatable ‘legs’ and plastic sheet supports – something that I’d invested in when I bought my first pair of knee-high boots from Office last year. These plastic sheets that you bend into the boots worked perfectly to support the tops and keep them standing proud, but after around 18 months of use the plastic became brittle and cracked down the centre of one stretcher. It can’t be fixed, but it did give me an idea… These stretchers (one below) were just a flat sheet of plastic, so where could I find a piece of plastic that I could cut into the same shape. Then it hit me – bottles of pop!
The plastic of my 2 litre lemonade bottle was thin enough to cut easily but thick enough to support the shape of my boots. It was long enough to support the ankle and the top of the knee-high boots. I started by checking whether the bottle would do the job ‘as is’ and popped the bottle into the boots, but the base of the bottle was too wide to fit into the ankles and stretched the leather a little, so it wasn’t any good. Incidentally, a smaller 1 litre water bottle probably would fit into the boots without any modifications, but I didn’t have any to hand so couldn’t test out this theory. What I could do however was use the last remaining unbroken boot stretcher as a template to cut out a replacement from the bottle plastic.
So I rinsed out the bottle with water before carefully cutting off the top and bottom of the bottle and cutting down the centre to open it out into a flat piece of plastic. I then traced around the boot stretcher and cut it out – essentially it is just cutting a curve around the four corners so that there are no sharp edges to injure yourself on! The beauty of the bottle shape is that it automatically wants to curl up into a tube, which makes it easier to slide into the boot. Luckily, the plastic was still strong enough to hold the shape of the boot and support it in an upright position. This would be equally successful for calf-length and ankle boots if you cut out a shorter boot support from the plastic. So there you have it – a 2 litre bottle of pop recycled into a boot stretcher, without costing me a fortune!