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The Magic of Weft Knitting

Posted by Guilford of Maine on November 1, 2016

Did you know that the same machine that is used to knit sweaters and shoes is also used to knit fabric for furniture? These versatile machines are able to knit a variety of different products and shapes that fit the contours of a chair, and are all knit at our facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read on to learn how this process works and its capabilities.


First we will talk about the differences between woven fabric and a knit fabric. Weft knitting is composed of interlocking loops of yarn to make pieces of fabric in various sizes (for example 24" x 24"). Weaving is the interlacing of yarns going above and below each other at right angles. Woven upholstery textiles are available by the yard on a roll, typically 54" wide.

Below is a short video that explains the knitting process in more detail as well as some footage of the machines in action.

We make a variety of different products for different applications, but on this post we are going to focus on products for the contract furniture seating market. These products range from flat pieces in various sizes to 3D pieces that fit over the chair like a shower cap to suspension knits for chair backs that don't have any foam.

2D Knits

Available in a variety of sizes for seats, seat backs and arm covers, we have 5 patterns available through Guilford of Maine. We call these 2D parts because they are flat pieces, without the engineered shape of a 3D piece.


Click on each image below to see the full color line and specifications.

Dash J580 Dash J580

Hot Shot J607 Hot Shot J607

Meridian J541 Meridian J541

Power Play J613 Power Play J613

Top Shelf J626 Top Shelf J626

3D Knits

These parts are engineered to fit specific applications, eliminating all cutting and sewing. The knit piece is created to follow the 3D curves of a chair, as well as integrating how the fabric attaches. As you can see below, due to the nature of the knit, the fabric follows the curves of the chair in a way that a woven fabric can't, allowing for better comfort. Because a knit is comprised of loops, this allows the fabric to stretch both vertically and horizontally, which also makes it much more comfortable when used on foam, because the foam is allowed to do its job.

Technical Suspension Knits

These parts are for seat backs where there is no foam. The support comes from the tension of the knit itself and is engineered for exact fit and can include any attachments points that are needed.

It can be tricky at first to think of upholstering seating with a piece rather than using a roll of fabric, but the capabilities and innovations that can be done with a knitting machine are pretty incredible. For more information, visit the Teknit website here.


Topics: Teknit