Arrive at the fabric store armed with the appropriate measurements for your project and/or your pattern.
Use the recommended fabrics listed on the back of your pattern envelope as a guide when choosing material. The store is organized by fabric type (e.g. silks, wools, cottons, etc.). Remember, when it comes to size, not all bolts are the same. Before you buy, take note of your chosen fabric's width (45 inches (125 centimetres) or 60 in. (150 cm)), which is indicated on end of the fabric bolt. This will affect the amount of fabric you need to purchase. The back of the pattern envelope will tell you how much fabric to buy according to the size of your project and the fabric width. And don't forget to check the right side of the fabric for flaws (e.g. snags, stains, etc.) to make sure it's usable.
Once you've made your fabric selection, head on over to the cutting table. Let the clerk know the amount of fabric you need. But before scissors meet material, there's one more thing to consider: nap. Nap refers to a fabric with a pile or one-way print (e.g. velvet or corduroy). The print or pattern of such fabric will need to run in the same direction throughout your project, which may mean you need more fabric than you'd expect. Follow the instructions on the back of your pattern envelope to ensure that you get the right amount.
If you're not sure if your fabric will require the "with nap" layout, here's a quick test: With your hand, brush the fabric in one direction; then, move your hand to another spot nearby and brush it the other way. Does the fabric look the same in both directions? If not, you've got yourself a napper!
Now that you've found the fabric for your project, hunting down the notions will be a breeze. You will find a list of required notions on the back of your pattern envelope. The most common notions are thread and zippers.
Thread is available in various colours, thicknesses and materials (e.g. polyester, cotton and blends, such as cotton-poly, etc.). Your fabric selection will determine the type of thread you need. To pick the right colour, unravel the thread end off the spool and place it across your fabric. The thread should blend/disappear into the fabric. If you're dealing with a multicoloured or printed fabric, choose thread in the dominant colour. You may also want a contrast thread for edge-stitching and topstitching, depending on your taste. Thread is found either on the wall or in a common area of the fabric store. It is sorted by company name, type or colour. Some stores might have spools of thread in bins on the floor. Usually, the lower quality threads are dumped into these bins for a quick sale. Do not purchase discount thread. It's a guaranteed sewing headache!
Zippers are available in different colours, materials (plastic vs. metal teeth), lengths and types (e.g. regular, invisible, separating, etc.). Purchase the length indicated by your pattern. As for colour, choose one similar to your fabric or stick with fail-safe black or white.