I have been practicing piping a simple scroll pattern for a wedding cake I am doing in a couple of weeks. Major frustration! I just can't get it down. I can't seem to control the flow of the icing well enough. It starts to squiggle on me and I just can't pipe a continuous smooth line. Sometimes it doesn't even stick to the cake. The scroll pattern is from the wedding invitation and I enlarged it and made a wire template to imprint on the cake. Maybe my icing is too thin or not thin enough or whatever. The scrolls will be black so I am practicing with Wilton black icing. It came in a tube and I thinned it with some milk. It is the same consistency that I would use for writing. Maybe I should use royal.
My DH thinks I should just cut them out with my Cricut, but I wanted them to have more dimension. I guess I will make some and see how it goes.
As you know, the best way to get good at this is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!
In the mean time, try this - tilt your cake so the icing can fall onto it. Piping scrolls on a straight vertical surface is very challenging. The Wilton tilting turntable is crap, so don't try that. You can just shove a binder (wedge) under your cake.
If it squiggles, then you're squeezing too hard and/or your icing is too thick. If you discover that you have better rhythm while piping fast, then thin out your icing. If you prefer to work slowly, decrease the pressure on your bag.
You also might want to try thinning the icing with some piping gel or corn syrup. It will add a little elasticity and help it stick to the cake better.
Hope this helps. I miss ya, girlfriend!
Try putting less icing in the bag, so that you can control it better.