A stitch in time saves nine is a proverbial expression that was used to express the thought that when you handle a problem sooner, it eliminates it from becoming a more significant threat later on. When you take it literally, to stitch fabric is to mend a torn fabric. When you fix it in time with a ‘stitch,’ it will not tear further thus needing ‘nine stitches.’
When you consider a cloth that is torn, every time you put it on or use it for any business without repairing it, you realize that it keeps getting worse. The tear can reduce it to useless rags. To put it back together to form something a bit decent will cost you so many stitches.
People use the phrase above to urge others to take care of any situation within the appropriate time. If not, by the time one starts to work on it, it will have escalated to a point where it is almost unmanageable. The situation will be magnified, and it will require more resources than when it was small.
For example, you may discover that there is something wrong with your body. Maybe you are having a strange pain. Since your schedule is tight, you self-medicate and buy some painkillers. These drugs may work to relieve the pain, but one day the pain may become unbearable, and you are forced to go to the hospital. The doctors find what the problem is and because you took a lot of time before going for a check-up, they discover that the problem is on an advanced stage.
Others also use the proverb to show that whenever we do our work on time, we will be in a better position when it comes to saving our time or avoiding wastage or loss. For instance, if you have a task and you accomplish it within the stipulated time, you will have the time to move on to other jobs and be more productive. However, if you do not and you procrastinate, idleness will set in among other things. You will waste a lot of time and be incapable of moving to the next task because one is pending.