It looks like a fondant covered cake piped with royal icing
I agree. It is covered in fondant with Piped Royal. Good luck on your friends cake!!!
That is a crewel work cake. I think Martha Stewart has some info either on her site, or in her book.
Yes, I think Martha has that on her site if not, it was featured on something Ive seen before! But Im pretty sure they piped it. What I would do is either find a stencil that is similiar or try to copy the pattern and then use a pin to transfer the design onto the fondant. Then it will give you the design to pipe out without having to guess at it!
I've seen a cake just like this and it is the crewel-type design done in royal icing on fondant. The design is done making a series of (sort of) overlapping curved lines that mimic an embroidered or creweled line.
WOW! Thanks for all the great help! This site is wonderful!