Hello Richard ..same advice as John : Charity shops are great.
Womens full length deresses , or two piece suits ( skirt and jacket) provide a lot of yardage of fabric when you cut them apart at the seams and lay out all the stuff they yeild.
Mens suits do too ..but in general the way female clothing is cut ..you get 'bigger bits' from a ladies suit than a mans ( just my own experience )
If I am doing a one -off puppet this is really the fastest way to find materials.
My local needlework shop sells nice printed cottons , but they are really aimed at the patchwork market , and are pricey.
By contrast we have 4 charity shops in th town.....so it is a regular event to find me doing a fast walk round all of them scanning all the rails.
Im not looking for what the clothing actually IS ( mens/ womans /kids /or size ec) just is it GREEN ( say) . Then I stop and handle the fabric ..will it sew easily? , does it crease? , how would it stand up to wear and tear etc.
I think the Charity shop ladies must be used to me by now ! LOL
All this is for the 'outer layer' ie the visible 'costume' itself.
For the Inner layer , Charity shops win hands down for Curtains / bedding / linnen tea-towels for cheap yardage of good strong cotton or calico type farics.
If I need to make a puppet with a 'duplicate' , or if for any reason I think I might need a carbon copy of that costume in the future , then I venture into Birmingham to the Rag- Market and by a few meters of something to make sure I have enough.
But really you cant beat the Charity SHops.
As has been said beofre on here , Id be wary of buying cloth from internet sites ...however good it looks on screen , you really need to get the feel of it between your fingers to know if it will withstand the rigours of constant packing and use , which is the fate of a P&J puppet.
If you are buying 'new' materials , expect to spend almost as much for the trimmings as you do on the fabric
Unless you just use 'Ric-Rac' ( Davide Wilde knows my aversion to this stuff : except on Joeys) ...then gold braids , orother trim , and some nice buttons , or bits of lace for cuffs etc all add up.
Not a Cheap Hobby ..but a Fun one