The way of life for School Sisters of Notre Dame is described in their Holy Rule. Part of this focuses on the quality of education being offered through SSND schools. The role of needlework in SSND education was a component of the Fine Arts. The Superiors were concerned that needlework not be "too fancy" that it would detract from the central mission of basic education, which would be appropriate to the needs of middle class students. Reflect on an excerpt from the Holy Rule to understand this emphasis on a simple yet strong foundation in needlework.
Excerpts from Holy Rule
From the very beginning, because of their practical, educational value, the School Sisters have stressed the importance of sewing and needlework. The teacher shall insist that the girls acquire such facility in the use of the needle as is requisite for ordinary housekeeping.
Sisters who, for the sake of making a grand display, induce pupils to do elaborate fancy work are untrue to the spirit of the Order which requires solidity and simplicity, but rejects all that tends to vain glory and display. By applying themselves to such work exclusively, the children lose all relish for things useful and essential.
Instruction is, however, not the only aim of our Congregation; education stands far higher in its ultimate purpose. The principal object of the School Sisters is not to give the children exterior culture so that they may appear brilliant before the world, but rather to train them to become efficient members of human society and genuine Christians. The Sisters must endeavor to instill into their minds solid piety, fear and love of God, as well as obedience and fraternal charity. p. 62