Scene: The grand Foyer of the Kennedy Center.

Action: Two little girls skipping along in party dresses.

Spotlight: Masking-taped hems! Everyone has clothes calls -- emergencies such as falling hems, lost buttons, rips -- that call for instant repairs. Most people grab for the tape, staplers, safety pins, paper clips. But there are alternatives: easy-to-use and affordable "tools" that could well make up an "emergency kit."

Hardly replacements for the safety pin, but worthy and more permanent:

Iron-on hemline tape. Stitch Witchery by Dritz is reversible if you decide to change the hemline back. Button Shop, 725 11th St. NW, $1.

Adhesive-backed ski-parka fabric in four colors called Bainbridge Riptair tape, at Ski Chalet, 1210 18th St. NW, $1.50.

Fabric glue stick to temporarily hold hems, zippers in place. Fabrics Unlimited, 3915 Columbia Pike, Arlington, $1.25.

Mink oil to waterproff leather shoes. Golden Star Valet, 1342 New York Ave., $2.50.

Rubber soles with the appropriate cementing material. Woolworth's, $1.99.

Metal-shanked vinyl luggage handle (beats the string variety). Golden Star Valet, $7.50.

Magix Shoe Stretch applied to the inside of leather shoes, boots and even gloves, to aid stretching while wearing. Golden Star Valet, $1.50. a

Tacco Slip heel liners, for when the shoe stretches too much (beats stuffing the toes with paper). Golden Star, $1.50.

Elbow patches for sweaters, jackets and even dresses, made from Ultrasuede scraps in many colors. G Street Remnant Shop, $1 to $3.

Appliques to cover the spots that will not come out, applied with Solomon's Sobo glue. Button Shop, $1.25.

Iron-on hem tape to let you take your hem down to it's last eighth of an inch. Button Shop, 65 cents.

Scalloping shears for a last-gasp method of shortening kids' hems. By Wiss at Fabrics Unlimited, $17.50.

Fraycheck liquid to catch frayed edges on upholstery or clothing. Survives several washings. Fabrics Unlimited, $1.50.

Mock button with elasticized loop closure for when your skirt gets too snug. Button Shop, $1.50.

Tin needle threading tools to restore catches in knitted fabrics. Button Shop, 2 for 15 cents.

According to major hosiery manufacturers, nothing beats clear nail polish for stopping runs. And nothing beats a safety pin for holding a zipper closed.