Sometimes I try to figure out how things are done myself. I will sit down and sketch it out, do the math, and make it. Sometimes I buy a pattern. Here are two patterns I don't regret buying.
The first is this skirt pattern from Simplicity, its Simplicity 7229.
I bought it a couple of years ago and have made four skirts. The skirts are comfortable, fit well, and only use a couple yards of fabric for the long version; so even if I buy a nice quilter's cotton it is less than $20 for a skirt that is custom fit. There is one alteration I made after the first two skirts and that is to do an elastic waist rather than a drawstring. To do this, I cut and sew my elastic to fit and then before I attach the yoke to the skirt, put the elastic in place and topstitch 1/4" below the elastic. This summer I may make the pants, maybe in linen. And as an added bonus, Simplicity patterns are $1 at Hancock Fabrics from April 15-18 and $1.99 each at Joann's from April 22-24.
The second pattern that makes me smile over and over is for the Olive and Archie doll.
I have made this doll at least ten times since I bought the pattern and each time it takes on a little life. She takes a bit of work, but the end result is so worth it. I just finished another little doll, this one for my niece, and she makes me smile. I find the trickiest part of Miss Olive is her face, and the advice I would give here is to avoid symmetry. Most faces aren't perfectly symmetrical and a little shift in the brow or lopsided smile is what will give the doll personality. You may want to check out the Olive dolls on Flickr to see what you like or don't like about what others have done. I also used the Archie pattern to make a ninja for my movie making nephew. For this, just cut two front head pieces, one out of flannel and one from black felt. Then cut an eye hole from the felt and sew the two together as you would with the hair. The back of the head is just one piece of black felt.
I love to sew and find it so fulfilling in my world of constant laundry to be done and floors to be mopped, to make something that is a finished product. While the skirt may end up needing to be washed and the doll made end up being picked up of the floor, the sense of satisfaction will continue to make you smile. Hope you give it a try.