Sewing. To many, it sounds boring, time-consuming and backbreaking -- dreadful, in a word. But the new fall fashions are simple styles -- wrap skirts, cat suits and unconstructed blazers -- that are easy to sew. And it's no secret that clothing prices are incredibly high. With a few basic sewing skills, however, the fashion-conscious can have a designer wardrobe at a fraction of the price.

Patterns are already available for some of these designer clothes. And there are plenty of patterns for special groups too -- petites, maternity and larger sizes. Classes are varied as well -- they are offered in the daytime, evening and on the weekend and are geared toward men and women at every level of experience. For additional information on any of these classes, please call the telephone number provided.

SEWING CLASSES

ARLINGTON ADULT VOCATIONAL & CAREER EDUCATION PROGRAM: 2700 South Lang St., Arlington, 358-6900. Classes in sewing, quilting, knitting and crocheting. Days and evenings.

ARMSTRONG ADULT EDUCATION CENTER: First and P Sts. NW, 673-7356. Basic sewing classes held Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., by Peggy Pate.

THE ARDIS SCHOOL OF DESIGN: 1728 Connecticut Ave. NW, 234-6537. Sewing, tailoring and other classes.

BISHOP METHOD OF CLOTHING CONSTRUCTION: 4900 Yorktown Blvd., Arlington, 818-8013, or in Maryland, 384-1634. Basic classes in dressmaking. $45 for six weeks. Call Marilyn Sommer.

COUTURE FABRICS: 320 King St., Alexandria, 548-7709. Tailoring-construction of a woman's jacket using time-saving, contemporary techniques. Six classes for $80. Make-a-shirt class also available. Five classes for $80. Classes are limited to 10.

CRANFORD AND STIGGONS SEWING CENTER: 3405 Bonita St., Suitland, 630-9164. All levels of clothing construction from beginning to advanced. Fee is $55 for six-week course, one lesson a week for 2 1/2 hours. Day, evening or Saturday classes.

LARALEE CROOKSTON: 1943 Rainbow Ct., Woodbridge, 494-3350. "Sew Fun for Kids" -- beginning sewing classes for children (adults also welcome). Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons;$30 a month plus $35 for materials. Holiday aprons and puff-paint applique also offered; fee is $15.

KATHERINE DAVIS/A WOMAN TAILOR: 802 Janice Dr., Annapolis, (301) 268-1843. English hand-tailoring methods, $100 for eight lessons, Sundays, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Flat pattern design, $250 for 10 lessons, Sundays, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

RONALD LOUIS DAVIS: 109 P St. NW, 488-4527. Classes by appointment only in all areas of sewing from beginning to advanced. Subjects from machine maintenance and pattern making to couture techniques.

DIAMOND SCISSORS: Arlene Heyman, P.O. Box 4767, Silver Spring, 384-2729. Beginner, advanced beginner and advanced sewing classes. Fees $20-$35. Classes are five to six weeks. Students must bring sewing machine.

ESPECIALLY YOURS: 705 Randolph St. NW, 882-5285. Private sewing classes to improve construction skills and techniques for all levels of ability. Also classes in sewing and fitting for plus sizes.

FAIRFAX COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Office of Adult and Community Education, 506-2231. 48 different classes in sewing, needlework and crafts. All skill levels. Fees range from $10 to $60.

FASHION INTERNATIONAL: 3136 N. 10th St., Arlington, 243-7377. Classes in pattern-making, custom design and draping. All levels of experience accepted, beginning through couture. Classes are 2 1/2 hours, cost $85 for four classes and are offered days, evenings and Saturdays.

G STREET FABRICS: 11854 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 231-8998. More than 100 classes, including beginning sewing, quilting, draping, fun with faux fur, monogramming. Pre-registration required. Call for a newsletter.

DEBBIE HILL: 847-9099. Private sewing lessons for beginning to advanced students. Learn to sew in your home using your sewing machine and equipment. Classes available Monday-Saturday for $30 per hour.

THE HOLTON ARMS SCHOOL CENTER OF THE ARTS: 7303 River Rd., Bethesda, 365-4089. Parent and child quilting (ages 8 and up). Basics of piecing and quilting. Tuesdays, 6:45-8 p.m., starting Oct. 23; fee is $50 for four weeks. Sewing basics for children also offered. Fourteen-week course with an emphasis on the basic skills of cutting, basting, stitching and learning to use a sewing machine. Thursdays 3:45-4:45 p.m., starting Sept. 19. Fee is $75.

KIDS CAN SEW: Christine Redd, 11820 Parliament Dr., Woodbridge, 491-7706. Beginning and intermediate sewing classes for children ages 6-16. Classes are $35 for a month, one hour a week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Limited enrollment.

MARYLAND SEWING MACHINE AND VACUUM CLEANER CENTER: 6280 Branch Ave., Camp Springs, 899-7200. Basic sewing, tailoring, fitting as well as machine arts, quilting and smocking.

MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: 2807 North Glebe Rd., Arlington, 284-1500. Courses in clothing construction and textile and apparel design. Morning and afternoon classes Monday-Thursday. Call admissions office for additional information.

NOOKS AND CRANNIES: 5150-A Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 522-5584. Classes include English smocking, heirloom sewing, Battenburg lace and more. Fees and times vary.

SEWING ETC.: Hwy. 301, Box 100-2, Waldorf, 870-8322. Comprehensive sewing classes and quilting classes, days and evenings. Fees vary.

SOO YOUNG LIM SCHOOL OF FASHION DESIGN: 804 West Broad St., Falls Church, 532-3325. A general course in custom design that teaches pattern-making, fitting, tailoring clothing construction, professional finishing and more. Basic sewing/alteration also offered for those who do not have sewing experience. Fee is $80 per month and class size is limited.

A STITCH IN TIME: 1269 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Fredericksburg, Va. (703) 371-4393. Sewing classes for beginners and advanced students in shirt-making, blouse-making and other specialized classes upon request. Fees start at $50 for a five-week, 10-hour course.

KNITTING, QUILTING, CROCHETING & CRAFTS

ALEXANDRIA CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King St., Alexandria, 824-6845. Basic sewing, beading and other craft classes. Monday-Thursday evenings.

ALEXANDRIA FINE STITCHERS, SAGA: 331 Mansion Dr., Alexandria, 549-8041. Smocking, embroidery, French hand sewing, fine machine sewing and related arts. Fees for special classes are generally $17.50 or less, plus materials, for a three-hour class. Call Melinda Lynam for more information.

APPLE PIE COUNTRY DESIGN: 1382 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, 734-0044. Beginning quilt-making classes start Sept. 10, 7:30-9:30 p.m., and Sept. 11, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Six weekly sessions cover pattern drafting, piecing, applique and more. Intermediate quilt-making classes begin Sept. 11, 7:30-9:30 p.m., and Sept. 13, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Six sessions include six- and eight-pointed stars, curved seams and more advanced applique techniques. Fee is $60 for either class. Call Harriet Halbig for further information.

ARMSTRONG ADULT EDUCATION CENTER: First and P Sts. NW, 538-6212. Machine knitting, hand knitting, crocheting, clothing construction, tailoring and millinery. Day classes begin the first week of October. CallDorothy Hutchinson for further information.

THE ART LEAGUE: 105 North Union St., Alexandria, 683-1780. Nonprofit fine arts school offering classes in fiber arts, including basic weaving and tapestry.

BELLE GROVE PLANTATION: P.O. Box 137, Middletown, Va., (703) 869-2028. Beginning quilting, Battenburg lace, smocking, tatting and other classes. Fee is $45 for all classes except quilting, which is $50.

THE CONTINENTAL QUILTING CONGRESS: P.O. Box 561, Vienna, 938-3246. The congress will be held Oct. 4-Oct. 8. It includes workshops, lectures and demonstrations; students can sign up for individual days or the series. Fees vary.

CROSSED CANOES INC.: 1703 B-1 Belle View Blvd., Alexandria, 768-4606. Classes begin in late September. Norwegian hardanger embroidery, cross-stitch and other forms of counted-thread embroidery; beginning through advanced classes.

DALE CITY RECREATION CENTER: 14300 Minnieville Rd., Dale City, 670-7113. Quilting, beginning sewing and craft workshops. All classes are offered in the evening.

DESIGNS BY ANGELIQUE: 8041 Cessna Ave., Suite 224, Gaithersburg, 948-1346. Fabric marbling, silk painting and faux finishing on Saturdays beginning Oct. 6.

TONIE EVANS: 13800 Crest Hill Lane, Silver Spring, 384-0818. Japanese embroidery using authentic threads, fabrics, tools and patterns. Classes start in October.

FIBERWORKS: 17800 New Hampshire Ave., Ashton, 774-9031. Knitting classes Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.-noon, and Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m.; crochet class Wednesday, 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday morning workshops in needlepoint and knitting.

FRAN'S KNITTING BOUTIQUE: 651 Main St., Laurel, 725-4264. Private or small group classes for all levels of hand and machine knitting as well as crochet. Cross-stitch also available.

MARY ALICE HEARN: 946-8358. Classes in beginning, intermediate and advanced weaving, as well as four-to-eight harness weaving and color. Twelve-week series for $240.

IN STITCHES-NEEDLEWORK: 8800-E Pear Tree Ct., Alexandria, 360-4600. Classes include knitting, quilting, tatting, smocking.

KNITTENS: 4963 Elm St., Suite 215, Bethesda, 907-8177. Machine and hand-knitting classes.

THE KNITTING PLACE AT MARKET STATION: 108 B South St. SE, Leesburg, (703) 771-YARN. Knitting lessons Monday and Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings. $40 plus materials for five two-hour sessions. Odd-ball sweater workshop, Sept. 16, 2-4 p.m. Machine-knitter workshop, Sept. 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $50 all day and $20 to observe in morning. Taught by Susan Guagliumi.

LORELEI'S ENGLISH SMOCKING: 2531 Locustwood Pl., Silver Spring, 236-4083. Day and evening classes in beginning and advanced smocking, picture smocking, embroidery and more.

SAMIA NASSAR: 4201 Butterworth Pl. NW, 362-2877. Knitting lessons, $50 for 8 hours. Embroidery lessons, $10 per hour. Call for days and times.

THE NEEDLEWORK ATTIC: 4706 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 652-8688. Beginning/intermediate knitting offered. Begins week of Sept. 10; six weeks for $54. Advanced/intermediate knitting techniques also offered. Begins week of Sept. 10; six weeks for $60.

THE QUILT PATCH: 3932 Old Lee Hwy., Fairfax, 273-6937. Beginning to advanced quilting classes. Also classes in sewing, piecing and more. Day, evening and Saturday classes available.

QUILT STUDIO: 8167 Main St., Ellicott City, 465-7202. Beginning, intermediate and advanced quilting.

LAURIE SIEMINSKI: 2930 Brandywine St. NW, 364-7082. Beginning and intermediate quilting taught at the instructor's home weekday mornings. Emphasis on traditional hand sewing for piecing and quilting. Fee is $80 for six weeks. Class size is limited to six. Individual consultation also possible.

SMITHSONIAN RESIDENT ASSOCIATE PROGRAM: 357-3030. Fall classes include beginning quilting and designing for piecework.

CLAIRE STARR: 244-7057. Beginning, intermediate and advanced classes in patchwork, applique and quilting. All work done by hand. Six two-hour lessons $42. Call after Sept. 10 for further information.

VIRGINIA COUNTY SMOCKERS: Reston Regional Library, 430-2797. Free smocking lessons. Oct. 20 and Oct. 27, 10 a.m.-noon. Limited enrollment.

WOOLY KNITS: 6728 Lowell Ave., McLean, 448-9665. Classes in hand knitting and crocheting include color work (intarsia and Fair Isle), finishing and continental knitting. Day and evening classes for beginners start Sept. 18. In October, New Zealand designer and author Lee Anderson will teach "designing with color."

THE YARN BARN: 8954 Burke Lake Rd., Springfield, 978-2220. Small group classes in beginning and intermediate knitting, advanced knitting workshops, finishing techniques, crocheting and more. Private lessons available. Fees are $45 for five two-hour sessions, with 10 percent discount on class materials.

YARN CRAFTERS: 9401 Indian Head Hwy., Suite 110, Fort Washington, 248-3434. Beginning knitting, crocheting, basket-weave sweater, intarsia sweater, reversible knitting and more.