There is no such thing as a “real” cosplayer. If you make, modify, or otherwise assemble some part of the costume you’re wearing, you’re a cosplayer. It’s that simple. I’d argue that if you’re wearing something you commissioned, you’re also a cosplayer — just be honest about who made your ensemble if someone asks. There is some gatekeeping within the community, but you can ignore it. Don’t let the fact that you can’t sew or craft stop you from trying cosplay. You can get your feet wet by assembling everyday cosplay outfits or going the semi-homemade, modified route. Jennifer Gonzalez recently discussed those options on Women Write About Comics with two cosplayers: Martha and Devin.
Martha is pictured above in the Loki costume and made it as simply as possible. The helm is made from cardboard, blue tape, and paint. Gonzalez explains the rest of the costume:
They bought a basic black lycra dress to use as the base, cutting and sewing the dress to their liking. Once the dress fit the specifications they desired, they attached separate pieces they had made out of faux leather, green polyester cloth, and wire-trimmed gold ribbon. It’s a pretty basic cosplay: a store-bought dress and some extra stuff you can find at a craft store. The most difficult thing to work with, according to Martha, was actually the store-bought dress (Is nothing safe anymore!?). The material, lycra, doesn’t really stay in place, so you need to find a way (other than pins) to keep it secure.
Read more about modified and closet cosplay at Women Write About Comics.