I buy cotton fabric with a small overall pattern (eg little flowers) which hides mistakes well. I use a t shirt that fits DD as a size guide and cut myself a newspaper pattern of just the top of the dress with no sleeves. Then I cut 4 copies of the pattern and sew them into a bodice (2 for outside, 2 for lining). Then I make a big tube of fabric for the skirt, gather it and sew to bodice. Makes a simple dress and easy to get the right size with no pattern. I think a tunic needs more careful cutting - I wouldn't try without a pattern.
the Oliver & S website is fab! There are some free patterns and lots of tutorials. Although I have boys, so no freebies for me! I have made the sailboat top twice now (although I need to make a few more to get my moneys worth as the pattern was quite expensive)
I also really like this site - sewmamasew If you have time to kill, go through all the catagories on the top left. There are links to virtually every type of project! There are some kids clothes months (as well as the one that I linked too)
Just a nice medium weight cotton OnlyWantsOne....with one contrasting print for the trim.
Another great site is www.crafster.org which has loads of childrens clothing tutorials in the children's clothing section...also there are advice threads where peope will help you along if you need it.
Owo I have been using fat quarters from the quilting shop nearby for Bea's dresses. i bought a pattern for 0-5 yr olds. I love contrasting cottons. i have also signed up for a course to learn more about dressmaking as shaping is my problem normally.
OWOthis is where I got my pattern from 6903 was the one I bought, they were on sale a few months ago at £3 a pattern. My local craft shop stock them as well, recently found out, but they order them in for you. MiL is refreshing her skills and my Mum can't wait either, she made a ton of clothes for me as I was tall and slim [not anymore].
Cheap fabric for me is either some nice cotton skirts from the charity shops, or bed linen. I like cotton at the moment. But mum also made things out of dads old T-shirts, but I haven't got the hang of sewing things with give in them.
Sew Hip is a good magazine for patterns, sold a dozen on eBay recently and they went for 99p each. They also do bags and often toys. Made a lovely owl toy out of scraps.