My hammock/tarp was the first thing I sewed. I had no skills either. I had to get a lady at church to show me how to sew. Hammocks are simple projects to start with, especially Ed Speer's system. Everything is rectangular. It's hard to mess up.
I bought an El Crapo sewing machine from Cheap Mart to do my first hammock system. Then I moved up and bought an old refurbished machine with a bigger motor. I just finished my first underquilt and plan to move on to making some panniers (saddlebags) for bicycle touring.
Jeff is right, once you make a shelter with your own hands you get hooked.