I often make small mats as samplers before or after larger projects. The first one is made from scraps left over from cutting triangles for my shot cotton quilt. The blocks are made by sewing onto muslin foundations printed with a rubber stamp. These can be sewn by hand but I liked the precision of the sewing machine. The binding is another shot cotton but striped!
I had a couple of stacks of fabric ready to cut and I used the triangle mat below to see whether I wanted to make a large quilt out of isosceles or equilateral triangles. Actually, I wanted to make one of each but just getting started on the isosceles sample convinced me to switch over to 60 degree angles instead. The piecing was more enjoyable, by far, so the equilateral mat got finished and now I use it under my laptop. It is made with Kate Spain Terrain scraps with a charcoal background.
I used some vintage (ha! - more like old and ugly) fabrics to make a mat of tumbler blocks before I made a pillow for my mother-in-law. Again, the mat enabled me to see how the blocks fit together while sewing them up and showed me that I would enjoy the process. These mats all just turn out the size they want to be; this one is a nice size for a place mat. But it isn't very attractive and there is only the one, so it has a home in the man cave, on a table under the popcorn bowl and the basket of remote controls.
This last mat was made out of some orphan blocks given to me by a friend. I just had to make them into something.