Your choice of fabric is so important - maybe even the most stressful part of the decision - because it's a huge investment and something you'll be looking at and using for years to come. (Another important element is Trim. Please see that page, too.) The major things to consider for your fabric (and trim): durability, suitability, and likeability.
Durability: Will it hold up to its use over time?
Suitability: Is it really the right kind of fabric for that piece? Is the scale of the pattern too small or too large?
Likeability? Will you love it as much in 10 years? Is the pattern too trendy? Is the color too dated?
Exploring fabric shops (good ones) will help. They often have display pieces that are inspirational. Like getting a new haircut, bring pictures of the styles you like. The salespeople can guide you to the right types of fabrics.
While you may be tempted to shop online for less expensive fabrics or for the convenience of shopping from home, the risks far outnumber buying in person from a reputable shop. So set aside several hours to visit a couple of them. You'll have qualified people serving you. You will get to touch and see the fabrics for yourself. You may get samples to bring home to compare against your other furnishings and lighting.
Here are a few tips as you start to shop:
1) If the fabric is less than the standard 54" - STOP! It's most likely not an upholstery fabric!
2) Fabrics labelled as "upholstery" may be too thin for your project; it may more suitable for soft furnishings such as pillows or window treatments.
3) Get free samples (as large as possible) to take home. Store lighting is not the same as in your home, so colors and textures may look very different.
4) Watch your patterns! Some patterns are large and lovely and bold and daring! But large patterns translate to more required yardage. Pieces must be cut in a way so the design on the final upholstered piece is uninterrupted. Or, if the pattern is too large, it may have to be cropped off to fit a smaller surface area. If I haven't provided a yardage estimate based on a pattern - STOP! We'll need to recalculate that.
More importantly, do invest your time and purchase from a reputable shop. I won't guarantee results with purchases (online or in-store) that may have been folded in shipment, a factory second, or in several pieces or dye lots, and I reserve the right to impose a surcharge for extra time and labor required to work with such fabrics.
Naturally, I am available to assist you with your choice before you buy. See Fabrics and Trims in the Terms & Conditions for more about purchasing your fabric, remnants, etc.
Artee Fabrics & Home (Richmond, VA)
The Second Yard (Charlottesville, VA)