Sew Stylish magazine is offering a free beginner's brochure.
Quick pattern tips--you're going to want to sew the most awesome looking clothes right from the get-go. Can I humbly recommend a pair of drawstring pajama bottoms made from a nice, soft, light cotton? They also have Sewing for Dummies (yes that 'for Dummies'). What I try to look for to keep things quicker and less frustrating: pull-over or pull-on styling, minimum number of pattern peices (less peices to cut and less seams to finish).
Most patterns have fairly good instructions, once you learn some of the vocabulary.
The library is a great place to look. Don't be embarassed to check out the kids section for quick projects.