Each year, as the annual list of sewing classes in the area is published, the incentives for learning to sew grow stronger. There's no need to tell you that the prices in the stores are high. You can probably save almost half by making that unconstructed, shawl-collared jacket yourself, even if you use the highest quality fabric.

Plus, some women are questioning the new looks for fall - they hated the Joan Crawford padded shoulders and the narrow skirts even when they first came out, they have no desire to look like a four-star general and they would gladly let the Western cowboy look stay on the set of "Little House on the Prairie."

If you're in this category, and you roam through the racks saying there's nothing you can put on your back without looking ridiculous and anyway, whatever happened to last season's basic wool skirt that looked perfect on you and you bought in three colors, then now's the time to sign up for a sewing class. There's no better way of getting the right fit at exactly the price you want to spend.

Since this season's styles are not as full-blown as last year's "big look," you won't even have to buy as much fabric. And if you've already got the basic sewing techniques down, this might be your year to take a tailoring course and make the perfect coat that's long enough to cover your skirts and big enough to wear a jacket under, or learn how to narrow all those wide leg pants down to this year's skinny proportions.

The pattern companies are on your side - they have the best of the current styles, as well as all the basics you can't find in the stores anymore. There are many high-quality fabric stores in the area, even places where you can get fabrics that were actually used by top Seventh Avenue designers. And most importantly, there are sewing classes for all ages (and both sexes) popping up all over the area. Below are a list of just some of the sewing classes in the area this fall, which were sent in to us after our query. General Sewing Classes

Stretch & Sew, five area locations. Offers a series of eight lessons in the Ann Person method of sewing. Also have advanced classes and special courses in men's suits, teen and children's classes and making fur jackets. Fees run $20 to $25 for eight two-hour lessons.

Janette Spark, Rockville, Md., 424-8708; All levels of sewing and pattern design classes in her private studio. Five 2 1/2-hour classes for $25.

Fabric World, Washington, D.C., 347-3310; Eight-week courses in beginning, intermediate and advanced sewing, with demonstrations of many different garments. $30 for eight two-hour sessons.

D.C. Cooperative Extension Service, 282-7413; Free clothing and textile workshops, demonstrations and sewing classes to residents of the District.

T's Tailored Fashions Sewing Classes, Suitland, Md., 736-5368; Both beginning and intermediate classes available in morning, afternoon or evening. Eight two-hour lessons are $25 for beginning, and $35 for intermediate.

Marymount College of Virginia, Arlington, Va., 524-500; Their fashion design classes for fall include Textiles, Clothing Construction, Interior Design and Textile Design for Clothing and Interiors. Fees vary.

Katherine Davis/A Woman's Tailor, Annapolis, Md., (301) 268-1843; She will offer a course called "Women's Tailoring, Fine Hand Techniques," in which tailoring techniques will be taught through lecture and demonstration. Eight 1 1/2-hour lessons for $60.

Montgomery Ward area stores. Classes in beginning or advanced sewing. Call 468-5335 for details.

Washington Fashion Academy, Silver Spring, Md., 384-6924; Advanced, professional classes include ladies' fashion design, pattern-making, tailoring and alternations as well as a men's fashion design and pattern drafting course. The basic 150-hour ladies' pattern-making course is $525.

Nettie Graulich, Washington, D.C., 686-9296; Small private classes tailored to your needs. Morning classes (with babysitter available) and evening classes. Eight weeks of 2 1/2-hour classes for $35.

Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Md., 299-5488; Lots of classes for beginners to learn the basic techniques of clothing construction and more advanced classes to learn basic jacket and coat tailoring skills. Classes meet for eight weeks, for one two-hour session per week. $16.

Ardis School of the Arts, Washington, D.C. 234-6537; A 27-month program leading to diplomas in ladies' or men's fashion design, is available plus courses in fashion illustration, pattern-making, alternations and others. Fees vary.

Fairfax County Public Schools - Adult Education, Virginia; 536-2030. Many different classes at various locations, including basic and advanced sewing, sewing with down-filled kits, ultrasuede, and special needlework courses. Most classes are $16 to $18.

D.C. Recreation Dept, Chevy Chase Community Center, 363-2440; Individual instruction for men, women and children tailored to your needs. $25 for 16 weeks of once a week two-hour lessons. Check your local D.C. Recreation branch for other sewing classes.

Bernie's Sewing School, Camp Springs, Md., 423-5251; Very small classes and individual lessons in all levels. $4 per class.

Fashion Knit Fabrics, Alexandria, Va. 36-5260; Beginning and advanced knit sewing, sewing with wovens, to make silk flowers. Six lessons in the basic knit sewing (2 hours long) for $18. Most special classes are $10 for two two-hour lessons.

Sears; most area locations offer morning and evening beginning and intermediate classes, most are 8 weeks of 2 1/2-hour classes for $30.

Sew & Sew Forth, Springfield Mall, 971-9400; Lots of different courses in basic sewing as well as special classes in swimsuits, machine embroidery and speed sewing. Fees vary from $15 to $35.

Y.W.C.A., 638-2100; One-level courses cost $32 for eight weeks of two-hour classes, but you must become a member of the Y.W.C.A. to register. Special Classes

National Cathedral School Continusing Education, Washington D.C., 966-8318 ext. 348; "Introduction to Quilting," a special course to learn the art of patchwork and applique. You make a pillow using the methods learned. $45 for six two-hour classes.

Sew for Fun and Fashion, Olney, Md., 774-9529; "Flat Pattern Making," eight two-hour classes for $50, will teach you to design, made and alter patterns for all types of garments. Also "Perfecting Your Basic Pattern," will stress student's making and fitting their own basic pattern, $90 for eight three-hour lessons and class size is limited to 4-6 students.

Nettie Graulich, Washington, D.C., 686-9296; A course in the rare art of Belgian lace making. You will produce lengths of four different lace edings suitable for trimming and a bookmark sampler of lace techniques. Eight 2 1/2-hour classes $55.

Theatre of Sorts, Washington, D.C., 387-8677; Get ready for Halloween early and be whatever you've always dreamed of - sew your own mask. Classes in mask-making and wearing.