If you are in Minnesota, I'm pretty certain Minneapolis is big enough to have a wholesale fabric shop. Way cheaper and they really don't get on you about how much you buy. I buy 1 or 2 yards at wholesale all the time.
Or you can find fabric online.
You really only need a basic sewing machine, but if you really want the seems to have stretch, a serger does provide more seam stretch so that the thread doesn't break. That being said, you can use cheap fabric, do not use cheap thread. The thread is more likely to go before the fabric, so seriously, buy nice thread.
Also, if you really are into it, go to a jo anne fabrics. They have classes there on making things and the ladies are super nice to new people who really want to learn.