When I was about 11 years old, I wanted some Ninja Turtle toys. Since my parents wouldn't buy me any, I decided to make my own. I made up the pattern for the turtle bodies, and my Mom showed me how to work the sewing machine. They were the first things I ever sewed.
The finished turtles looked like green gingerbread men with lumpy green backpacks, but I thought they were awesome. Their respective purple, blue, orange, and red masks and armbands were made of felt that was hot glued in place, and they each had their own custom-made weapons.
As a kid I was quite pleased with myself, and I've been sewing and making stuff ever since.
I decided to make an updated version of my original homemade Ninja Turtle action figures for my own kids to enjoy. I also used the same body pattern to make a little Darth Vader figure as well.
The turtle design should offer some challenges, but still be simple enough for beginning sewers to complete.
The Darth Vader figure was more of a challenge--especially his helmet. I had to go Boba Fett-style on it, although in tiny scale. His lightsaber handle detaches from the light-beam (you know, for when he's not engaging in combat).