Figure 1: Block construction
Figure 1: Block construction

Only two templates are required for the traditional Corn and Beans block. However, plenty of bias seams are involved which require careful sewing to prevent the fabric patches stretching.

The block is based on a nine patch grid. It is easiest to draft your preferred size of block if you choose a finished measurement which is divisible by three (such as 9 or 12in). The templates shown here are for a 12in block.

To draft your own templates, start with a square the required size and subdivide into nine. You will only need to draw a small portion of the block to get the two templates.

TIP!
                        To avoid fabric stretching when working on the bias, use spray starch to stiffen the fabric before cutting the patches.

Construction

Follow Figure 1 for the construction order. Each quarter of the block is identical. Make four quarters and join.

You could quick piece the half square triangles for part of the block but you will still need to add the triangles to make up the diagonal strip.

Always press with the grain and avoid pressing along the bias edge.

Layout

When the blocks are laid together, a secondary pattern with a windmill block appears (see Figure 2). To emphasise this, change the colours of these pieces.

This block looks most effective without sashing so the colours flow along the diagonals. Advanced quilters can enhance this effect by changing the colours in each quarter (Figure 3).

History of the block

Corn and beans were the staple diet of many settlers and pioneers in America. Corn was grown for flour rather than corn on the cob as we eat it today. The beans were a type of French bean that the Americans call a pole bean. They were planted to climb up the corn plants as they were growing. Squash plants were sometimes under planted as well.

One quarter of this block is also known as Northwind.

Layout with windmill blocks
Figure 2: Layout with windmill blocks
Layout with colour change
Figure 3:Layout with colour change