I had some cake orders that really needed some details that using Sugarveil would fulfill. So, I made the investment back this spring and bought a couple of mats and some of the icing. There is a bit of a learning curve and you must follow the instructions to the T to get the right results. I am still fine tuning my way with it but am getting better all the time. It looks amazing and works just like they claim.
As for alternatives, I have been looking into trying "cake lace" which came on the market not too long ago. I think it is marketed in England but they do have places that ship to the USA. With it you can heat it in the oven and it speeds the drying time down to around 15 minutes so you could have lace done in 30 minutes start to finish. I have read the testimonials from people and so will likely give it a whirl soon because when doing a wedding cake I would need a lot of lace and having to wait for 2 hours or so each time for the lace to dry on the mat before it can be removed and stored for later use is a pain. It took me off and on all day to get enough for one cake. Being able to get it done in an hour or two would be great. The mats from Sugarveil can be used with their product and they sell mats as well.