Creating engineered patterns for swimwear


Engineered patterns in the apparel market are very common. Some companies don’t like to use too much of them in a collection because they increase the cost of production. Others specialize in using engineered prints for more sophisticated pieces.

Engineered patterns are also called placement patterns. A single motive or the whole layout has to be placed in a special part of the garment. It is designed to make the later production process as uncomplicated as possible. It can be a print in the centre of a T-shirt, a border print on a skirt or dress, or anything else which has to be placed on a certain piece.

Basic swimwear pieces, swimsuit, bikini

In the swimwear industry, it is a special process because of the small size of the pieces of the garments, like a triangle bra. But for any market you are creating, you should first decide upon the kind of garment you want to design. You have to think not only about the places where you want a placement, but also the parts you want to keep plain and the ones where you want allover print, and their proportion.


In swimwear, you have the typical garments: a one-piece swimsuit, bikini with a triangle bra, bandeau top or bra with cup, the bikini bottom, and some complementary pieces like the now trending surfer top. (There are also beach scarves, which are normally rectangles, so they are a little different. However, I won’t be talking of them at the moment.)

Marker layout of triangle engineered bikinis

We can create patterns with the purpose of having adaptable designs for all (which usually means more waste), or we can decide to work for one specific piece. If you have decided already, you can start thinking about which part of the garment you want to place your motive on. You have to imagine how the cutter will put the apparel pattern onto the fabric with your design.

Marker layout of engineered bandeau swimsuit

You also have to think about the sizes of the pieces, and also the fact that they need to be sewed on, so that they are a few cm bigger than the finished pieces. The scale of the different sizes also matters. Some companies fabricate in three sizes, others much more. The difference between sizes is normally four cm in the full width of the garment. So an XXL-sized swimsuit can occupy 12 cm more than the S size. So don’t forget to leave enough space for the bigger sizes!

It is also important to know the normal width of the fabrics. In swimwear, you can find widths of around 140-160 cm. But while printing it can reduce the usable space because of the printing process. It is more secure to count keeping in mind 140-145 cm.

Marker layout of engineered one piece swimsuit

Sometimes it so happens that the pattern slips a little to one side while printing and disappears some cm, which can be critical. If the printing is irregular, it is difficult to put the layers of fabric perfectly and it can produce a less useful width. That’s why it is very important to leave enough space around the pattern. Repeating the background layout seamlessly helps to have more useful space between the pieces so that extra pieces can be added during production.

If a placement print has a plain background without textures or different hues, the client can buy the printed fabric only for the engineered parts, and for the rest of the pieces, they buy a plain fabric in the same color as the background. But it is useful to be able to offer the same background without the placement when it has some textures or elements.

To see more examples of swimsuits and bikinis with placement prints, please check the Christmas Surf engineered pattern from the Coastal Christmas Collection and visit my Engineered Swimwear Pinterest board!



  1. Avatar
    February 27, 2016 by johnsteve Reply


  2. Agnes Somogyi
    February 27, 2016 by Agnes Somogyi Reply

    You’re welcome! I’m glad you found this post useful.

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