“A stitch in time saves nine.”
The informant was born in Atchinson, Kansas, but moved to California when she was seven, where she has lived ever since.
While the informant cannot remember a specific instance where she heard this saying, she explained that this was something that people would say over and over again. Essentially, part of her vocabulary growing up. She considers her generation to have been homebodies and that their sayings simply reflected the way people were living. To her, these sayings came from people who were doing more manual work, like farming and housekeeping, rather than office work. She herself never had a job, but fulfilled her goal of becoming a mother and homemaker.
In one sense, the saying is specifically talking about sewing. It means that if you have a tear in your stockings, for example, and you stitch it right away, it will not grow larger and require more than one (potentially nine) stitch(es).
However, the idea from the saying can be applied to other things. For example, if you take care of something when either first assigned or simply in the beginning, you save yourself work by doing it before it grows potentially more difficult, more stressful, etc.
The informant relayed her folklore to me at my dining room table. I have known her my entire life as she is a close relative. I had already asked her about her folklore weeks before, but upon meeting on this day, she brought a list that she had written of all she could think of so that she would not forget when she told me. While she read the specific folklore off the sheet, the other details I got from her were not pre-determined.
While using language related to sewing, I find that this really does apply to a lot of other areas, as the example shown above. I also think that the phrase itself is easy to understand, whether or not you have ever sewn in your life. Ultimately, it is a phrase with which to combat the desire to procrastinate that may not be effective, but might work once or twice for certain people.