Be aware of the fabric weight when selecting the right fabric for your project. Fabrics come in many weights, which will determine how they drape when finished. It is important to handle the fabric and check out how the fabric hangs when making the decision about whether it is appropriate for your project.
Some fabrics that are off grain when put on the bolt cannot be returned to a straight grain. It is a good idea to check fabric for straightness before purchasing. While at the store, unroll about a yard from the bolt. Lay it out matching up the selvages to see if it lays straight and the crosswise thread lay at a right angle from the selvage edge.
When matching colors or trying to find a particular color, you need to have natural light. Many fabric stores have poor lighting. When checking or comparing color, move to a window or doorway that has natural light. If necessary, check with a salesperson and step outside to get a better view of the fabric.
Fabric usually comes either in 44 to 46 inch width or 54 to 60 inch width. Decorator fabrics are available in wider widths. Some specialty fabrics, such as silk come in narrower widths. Check your pattern to see what width is required to make your garment or project.
When making a lined garment or a garment that combines more than one fabric, make sure that all the fabrics can tolerate the same care. Mixing washable and dry-cleanable fabrics is not a good idea. Preshrinking is essential when mixing fabric because they may not all shrink at the same rate.
If the fabric you are considering has a repeating pattern or print, check at how often it repeats and where the pattern will sit on the garment. Some prints and patterns are beautiful, but are not appropriate for a particular garment.
Most commercial patterns have information on the back of the envelope about fabrics for that particular garment design. There will be a recommendation of suitable fabrics and often a list of fabrics to avoid. It will tell you if it is appropriate for knit or stretch fabrics and will let you know if the pattern will work with fabrics that have an obvious design.