My informant first heard this saying from her grandmother when she was a child. She said that her grandmother was teaching her to sew using the baste method, which uses one long stitch over a piece of fabric in order to hold the fabric together for the main stitches which are smaller. My informant told me that along with the reasoning for using this method, her grandmother used the phrase, “A stitch in time saves nine.”, meaning that using this method, even though it seemed time-wasting and tedious, would save time in the ling run by keeping the the fabric in place and preventing mistakes when sewing the small stitches.
The person who originally said the phrase was Benjamin Franklin. My informant’s grandmother likely read it in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. Benjamin Franklin wrote the almanac under the pseudonym “Poor Richard” between 1733 and 1758. My informant’s grandmother used the phrase in a situation that actually involved a stitch, but the saying can also be applied to a number of situations.