QUICK TOUR of the shops full of this season's fashions should inspire even those who can't darn to take advantage of sewing classes being offered this month and throughout the fall. Not only is the trend toward simpler, oversized and less-fitted shapes a decided advantage to home sewers, but with the new neon colors, says Muriel at Fabrics Unlimited in Arlington, "even a beginner can make a simple coat that's a knockout."

The quality fabrics and designer patterns available these days should also make sewing at home hard to resist. Imagine making the clothes you see in the stores and fashion pages in the colors and fabrics you choose -- and with a fit you could never get "off the rack." Imagine sewing by the seasons rather than having to shop months in advance, or copying clothes from the European collections months before they appear in the stores.

"Did you ever know in your head what you wanted but couldn't find it in the stores?" asks Mary Pettus. The manager of her own public relations firm in Washington, Pettus finds that sewing her own clothes solves this problem. A frustrated designer since making doll clothes as a child, she also finds sewing a creative outlet. "I get rid of a lot of frustration in the sewing room," she says.

Alexine Jackson, a volunteer with the Hospitality and Information Service, which caters to diplomats, began sewing years ago as a matter of economics. "I couldn't afford the kind of clothes I wanted to wear," she says. Today she's still making her own clothes, because they "suit me and my body type. There is a joy of creativity that comes from taking a piece of fabric and making it unique."