The problem I want to solve is straightforward. I want a programming language that can be understood.
C is very easy to understand most of the time, and to read, as long as you understand the basic concepts. I even think it's easier to read than BASIC in most circumstances (just a personal opinion here, not looking to argue this one.) A large number of programming languages are largely based on the C syntax because of this. The brackets, curly brackets and parentheses are there to make it easier to read. But you can't read it like a book. Just like a microcontroller can't read an instructable and understand how to do it.
What I don't want is a language like C that nobody can make head or tail of for the entire duration of their projects — even the individuals that started off very interested and capable in computers.
I don't want them to spend their entire project just following along typing in or cutting & pasting things with no understanding of what they are doing, as long as they get the results promised.
I don't want them to get demoralised and feel inadequate when they experience nothing but errors and failures, because they have tried to mix and match existing programs.
I don't want them to end up leaving the unfinished mess of programming until the last minute in the hope that the requirement to make it work somehow will just go away.
I don't want them, on the other hand, to waste a completely disproportionate amount of time on the programming and still get nowhere, only to find that the time left for the important parts of their project has been eaten away now, making the overall quality and depth of their project suffer.
I don't want people to grind to a halt and run out of time on their projects, only having got as far as progressing it to the first rough with no further refinements in the design or creation due to lack of time (which is usually the case anyway even without adding ambient, ubiquitous or just plain wearable computing to the mix of influences).
I want them to demonstrate their skills as artists and designers, producing whole projects with a good sense of innovative balance and distribution of effort across the time allotted, instead of encountering so many elephant traps — plunging into a black hole of struggling with finer points and technical refinements of a language for weeks on end — the value of which prove to be utterly irrelevant to the merits of their art and fashion design projects.
This makes it sound like you aren't interested in programming at all; only having the microcontroller do your will with human based commands. I suggest you find a nice graphical user interface that has some scripting options. I have never heard of a programming language (with the language at fault) where you have this much trouble with small programs, and if you don't understand the simple programs, you shouldn't be trying the larger programs first. You seem to have an interest in the sewing aspect here, so here is a sewing example: You wouldn't make a two layer sweater without knowing how to sew first. While the easy sewing projects you start with aren't really what you want to do, and you might really hate doing them, you do them knowing that you need to understand them to complete your goal.
It takes time to understand any programming language, and it is easier for some people than others. I helped teach a robotic programming class, I should know.
I don't want to discourage you from programming Arduino, but I think you should know that that is what it is. Programming.
If you want something that is more human readable, you may want to take a look at the PICAXE series of microcontrollers. They have a free flowgraph based programming setup that is supposed to be really easy, and it would follow that it is very readable. Or you could try to get Flowstone to work with your board (Which would require some normal programming anyway...)
BTW, there was some mention of semicolons not making sense at the end of lines. They make sense because the completion of a line isn't where a microcontroller stops. It continues on to the next line, which is still related somewhat, if for no other reason than it is also part of the C program. So a semicolon make perfect sense. Note that a C program is completed by a closing curly bracket. Periods can't be used easily due to confusion with decimal points.