To sew or not to sew . . . a lot more people may be deciding to take up the needle this fall in an effort to get exactly the type of clothes they want and in order to save money.

Learning to sew is a painless experience in the hands of the right teacher, and this month, there may be just the right combination of factors to send you running to the nearest sewing class. First of all, as the fall fashions hit the racks, you'll notice the high quality of fabrics but the sometimes less than perfect workmanship and the startling price tags. It is possible to find those quality fabrics here in Washington and pair them with one of the many new designer patterns. And with perhaps a special tailoring course, you can learn how to position those all-important shoulder pads just right and how to tailor a suit to a rival a couturier.

Hand-knit sweaters are another big fashion item this fall that with a little instruction from one of the local classes, are more fun to make yourself. And don't forget those quilted coats and jackets that are all over the stores right now that might make use of long forgotten quilting techniques.

As time (and gas) becomes more dear, shopping may become increasingly difficult and tiresome, adding one more reason to sew at home.

Following is a list of just some of the sewing classes offered in this area, which were sent in to us after our query. Remember that in most cases, materials are not included in the fees.

Dannemann's Fabrics (Arlington, Va. 524-8811) Eight two-hour sessions in basic sewing, dressmaking, and tailoring plus Ultrasuede and reupholstery. Fees range from $25 to $40.

Bettye's International Couture (Columbia, Md. 596-0177 or 730-6846) Individual or group lessons for all levels, to complete at least one garment in the six-week course. Six two-hour lessons for $50.

Arlington Public Schools Adult Vocational and Career Education Program (Arlington, Va. 684-9000) Sewing classes at three levels as well as special courses in cloth toymaking, needlepoint, knitting, quilting and custom drapery. Fees vary.

B-- B's Fabrics (Oakton, Va. 938-9252) Lecture-demonstration classes in advanced dressmaking, tailoring, Ultrasuede and hand quilting. From $12 to $36 for 2 1/2-hour lessons that last from three to nine weeks.

Katherine Davis/A Woman's Tailor (Annapolis, Md. 268-1843) Katherine Davis offers a custom tailoring course in fine English hand methods in which the student will construct a blazer, suit or coat. The fee is $60 for eight weeks, 1 1/2-hour lesson per week.

Ardis School of the Arts (Washington, D.C. 234-6537) A wide range of classes in sewing in their diploma and certificate programs and eight-week courses. Included are all the basics as well as shirt-making, pocket-making, millinery, and leather and fur construction. Fees vary.

Washington Fashion Academy (Langley Park, Md. 431-3030, 384-1586) A full program in ladies and men's fashion design including pattern-making, creative design, tailoring and alterations. Fees vary.

The Singer Co. (Falls Church, Va. 533-3121) Beginning, intermediate and advanced classes as well as teen sewing for boys and girls and fabric painting and applique. Most classes are 1 1/2 hours long for six to eight weeks. $24.95 to $39.95.

Danemann Fabrics (Laurel, Md. 498-6500) Bishop method basic sewing and a special blazer tailoring course. Classes meet two hours a week for eight weeks. $20 to 25.

Montgomery County Public Schools Department of Adult Education (299-5484) Many different courses ranging from basic pattern and design classes to crochet, canvas stichery, embroidery and patchwork designs. Fees vary.

The International Parade (Kensington, Md. 933-1770) They will sponsor a Folkwear Patterns trunk show on Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 1 in which a representative will be on hand to answer questions. Free.

Marymount College of Virginia (Arlington, Va. 524-2500 ext. 71) Classes in textiles, clothing construction and textile design. Fees vary.

Barby's Fabric Shop (Mazza Gallerie 244-1210) Lots of courses including basic pattern fitting, knitting and crocheting, tailoring, teen-- age sewing and dressmaking. Eight weeks of two-hour lessons $35. (Barby's also has classes in their Lakeforest Mall and Bradlee Shopping Center stores.)

Public Schools of the District of Columbia, Armstrong Adult Education Center (724-5072) All levels of dressmaking, tailoring, millinery and needle arts (knitting, crochet, needlepoint and crewel). D.C. Residents $2 per class, which meet once a week for two hours.

Kathe Koumontseas (Washington, D.C. 966-6718) A course in "Weaving Your Own Clothes" -- an intensive study course in picking out fiber, dressing and threading the loom, designing and weaving the fabric and finishing instructions. Classes, which meet twice a week for four weeks, are limited to three people per session. Fee $200.

YWCA Washington, D.C. Branch (638-2100) After being a YWCA member ( $15 a year) you are eligible to sign up for their dressmaking class which meets for two hours a week for eight weeks.$40.

YWCA Montgomery County Branch (460-3900) If you are a YWCA member, you can take a quilting class offered here which will meet for eight two-hour sessions, $20.

G Street Remnant Shop (393-7892) Mrs. O'Sullivan of the shop will be offering a beginners quilting class to teach the basics of cutting, piecing and quilting patchwork while constructing the the project of their choice. No prior knowledge of quilting necessary. Five two-hour sessions $40.

Prince Georges Adult Education -- Terry Bork (384-1634) Basic Bishop Sewing, Knit Fashion Sewing and Basic Crewel Embroidery will be offered at the Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Md. Classes meet two hours a week for 12 weeks, $20.

Amy T. Chamberlain (627-4336) She offers courses in machine stichery to help people become better acquainted with their machines. There are one-day workshops, some specializing in monogramming, applique and trapunto, for $15; and a series of six two-hour classes with demonstrations in those techniques plus others for $20.

Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (Greenbelt, Md. 953-9595) A beginning sewing class is offered with an overall introduction to sewing and in which a blouse and a skirt will be demonstrated. $15 for eight weeks of two-hour classes.

Falls Church Recreation Dept. (Call instructor Ruhamah Strite 560-1481). A beginning class for those who want to learn by actually sewing in the classroom. A 10-week class that meets 2 1/2 hours weekly. $26.

Mary Penders Quilting Clases (Vienna, Va. 938-6175) A number of workshops are offered including an introduction to quilting, intermediate quilting, in which students make a sample quilt, and advanced quilting in which students work on individual projects and make field trips. Fees vary.

Fabric World (Washington, D.C. 347-3310) Classes in the Fashionetics methods in tailoring, advanced and beginning sewing including how to understand your own body measurements and apply them to the pattern and how to cut valuable sewing time in half. Fees for six weeks of three-hour classes are from $50 to $75.

Her Majesty's Fabrics. (Springfield, Va. 451-3651) Beginning and intermediate classes in sewing, quilting, needlepoint, crochet and knitting. Classes are two hours long and meet for five weeks. $20-25.

Cloth Corner Singer (Fredericksburg, Va. 703 373-8982) Both beginners and intermediate sewing is offered for adults and teens. Six three-hour lessons $29.95.

Stretch and Sew Fabrics (Springfield, Va. Woodbridge, Va., Vienna, Va., Gaithersburg, Md., Silver Spring, Md.) All five offer classes in the Ann Person method of sewing with knits. Eight two-hour classes for $25.

D.C. Recreation Department (673-7660) Many of the local recreation centers offer courses like sewing, needlecraft, weaving, fabrics and textile dyeing and painting. Classes are usually two to three hours long and fees vary.

Minnesota Fabrics (12 area locations) Thf stores offer a variety of free lecture-demonstration classes that are about one hour long, including topics such as sewing with velour, quilting basics, lingerie and Ultrasuede techniques. For more information call 468-6860.

Fairfax County Adult Education (533-8191) Many classes including sewing, tailoring, women's pants, Ultrasuede, children's clothing, applique and quilting with your sewing machine. Most classes are 2 1/2 hours long. Fees vary.