I highly recommend the following books for those just starting out. They are very accessible and offer a variety of projects to get your arms around. Click on the links in the titles to get them on Amazon!
1. Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of Crafts
This is a really beautifully put together book with wonderful pages and lots of ideas. The projects include clothing, housewares and items for children.
2. Sew Everything Workshop
This book is great - I have made the pencil skirt three times and also tried my hand at the dress. That didn't work out so well for me but the reason was the cheap, nasty material as opposed to the pattern!