The first breath of spring, and you're wringing your hands over last year's spring wardrobe?

So -- sew.

It, granted, does take a little advance planning to drag yourself over to a fabric store, pick out a pattern and fabric and then sit yourself down at the old machine. But if you need convincing, take a quick glance at a few price tags on new spring goodies at any department store. You may shock yourself into sewing with one example like this: a simple cotton, elastic waistband, unlined designer skirt . . . price, $98.

You could make the same, in what some say is the best cotton (Swiss, $12.98 a yard), and including pattern and miscellanea, for less than one-third of that, or about $30.

Women sew more in the spring and summer, pattern companies claim, because warm-weather fabrics like cotton and linen are easier to work with (and press) than heavier winter ones.

Also, you don't have to line most spring dresses and skirts; you can pink or zigzag seams to prevent fraying, and stitch hems -- as well as necklines and sleeves -- by machine instead of by hand.

It's also a lot less scary to take scissors to a $5-a-yard cotton print than to a $25-a-yard Irish tweed. And, courage: with lighter-weight fabrics, you're less likely to get results reminiscent of a Sewing I class project.

Still leary of taking the plunge? Make up your mind to start with an easy pattern -- such as Very Easy Vogue Pattern 7648 -- for that wardrobe boost we all need now. The pattern has the new bi-color, graphic look fashion mavens are touting, only nine pattern pieces and instructions for both a one-piece dress and a two-piece outfit.

This pattern comes in sizes 8-16 and the long, vertical line on the dress gives a tall and lean look to almost anyone. But if you tend toward the hippy side, make it in the two-piece version or in a soft print.

Many wardrobes these days are heavy on skirts and tops and could use a good dress or two. If you choose to make it in the bi-color option (rather than in a spring floral), you'll find yourself wearing it right through next fall. A polyester crepe or a cotton-jersey fabric would make this perfect for traveling, or in linen, a classic.

Vogue estimates that if this pattern is started in the morning, a steady, even unsure-of-herself sewer could complete it by early afternoon. (Even with the side-back zipper.) Total cost: in $4.98-a-yard polyster crepe, $25; or $15-a-yard Italian silk, $65.

Fabric stores have their best selection of warm-weather fabrics now; pattern companies all have special categories of super-fast patterns, and it's still too cold to spend weekends lolling at the beach.

So, for the kindest cut of all, become your own couturier for spring.